New York

Live From the Greatening: The Voice Blogs Trump’s Inauguration

by

It begins. Today Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence will be sworn in as the next president and vice president of the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people are here in Washington to cheer, jeer, or disrupt the inauguration.

The Voice will be reporting from D.C. throughout the day. Check back for updates.

Parade Route, Pennsylvania Avenue, 4:41 p.m.

After a long wait in a determined drizzle, the inaugural parade finally made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue. With no school bands volunteering to play, Trump’s parade was anemic, with just three military bands followed by his battle-ready SUV. Faintly, one could see a familiar thumbs-up behind tinted glass. “Is that him?” a crowd member asked. She applauded profusely. Apparently it was worth the cold, several-hour wait. The protesters pumped up the volume on their sound system to greet Trump, but he sped on by. Everyone shuffled to the exits. The song changed to “Fuck Donald Trump,” and then Rage Against the Machine. A Trump supporter got into one final fight with a protester. “Come to Alabama and say that!” he yelled as his wife pulled him away. The new regime began in earnest.

7th Street and D Street, 3:05 p.m.

At the Answer Coalition rally, hundreds of people remain next to the parade route. Robert Hilliard, a 91-year-old veteran of World War II, warns of the fascists he believes have now taken over the White House. “One thing fascists do to distract everyone is to single out a minority,” Hilliard told the rally, drawing from his own experience fighting fascists in Europe. “They’ll even say that they’re rapists and murderers. Does that sound familiar to you?”

Parade Route, near the Navy Memorial, 3:00 p.m.

On the near-empty parade route, crowds of protesters rally as Trump lunches. Spread thinly along the barriers toward the White House, supporters of the president begin sporadic chants of “Trump!”

An ICE agent brought in from California for the event chats amiably with two “Bikers for Trump.” He tells them about some paid protesters he claimed he encountered at the border, and about some drug busts he was involved in. They mostly talk about the weather.

Buses arrive to disgorge Republican dignitaries and donors onto cold benches. They start yelling at the protesters and the protesters yell back, chanting “Trump is a puppet!” and “USA!” Strange times.

Smoking cigarettes, two older women tell me that the protesters lack dignity. “Whatever happened to a thing called decorum?” asks one woman wearing a pink Trump hat. She declines to give her name. “Where is everyone?” I ask them, pointing at the deserted sidewalk. “Maybe people just couldn’t get off from work,” pink hat tells me.

I reflect that Trump supporters called Hillary Clinton some pretty nasty things during the campaign. Don’t these protesters have the same right?

“No,” she responds quickly. “Because what they say doesn’t matter anymore. We won. They need to deal with it.”

Harry’s Pub, 11th Street and E Street, 1:09 p.m.

Harry’s Pub at 11th and E is full of Trump supporters there to watch his inaugural address.

“You know, people say Trump is corrupt, but the Obamas are leaving the White House with billions,” says a woman sipping a martini while wearing a Trump beanie.

Several students from the University of Tennessee who have gathered here remove their hats while Trump takes the oath, then raise their glasses when it’s all over.

“It begins!” one whoops.

7th Street and D Street, 12:14 p.m.

At the Answer Coalition protest along the parade route, the inauguration broadcast begins to overwhelm the sound system of the rally. As both Trump and Pence take the oath of office, protesters boo and raise their middle fingers in the air.

All too quickly, it has actually happened, and the reality of this very unreal moment takes hold. Trump is president. Exactly as he takes the oath, it begins to rain, and while people continue to chant, they are transfixed by Trump’s announcement of a new regime.

In comparison to both 2009 and 2013, the parade route is essentially deserted. Some protesters remain, chanting, others look ashen. Trump’s booming voice, incorporeal, announces that the new slogan of America will be “America First.” Protesters huddle closer to their sound system, where Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” plays. A few steps away, Trump’s proclamations ring over empty bleachers. People shake their heads. It continues to rain.

13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, 11:21 a.m.

As Trump’s motorcade passed through 13th and Pennsylvania en route to the Capitol, a row of supporters waving flags emblazoned with his face cheered.

“I like his tax plan, I like his immigration stance, I like that he’ll keep the good parts of Obamacare,” said Dan Sullivan, a sixteen-year-old from Pittsburgh. Sullivan said he was unmoved by Trump’s lack of experience, noting that the country needed to do a “180” from Barack Obama.

As for Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women on camera, Sullivan said worse people have become president. “I’m more worried about Bill Clinton. He actually did that stuff, and worse. For real.”

Red Ticket Checkpoint, India Avenue, 10:59 a.m.

Vishavjit Singh, 45, came down from New York under the guise of “Sikh Captain America.”

“My main message is we need to find ways to move past the snap judgments and stereotypes,” he says. “I didn’t vote for Trump, and I have some concerns about him, but for me to just start by labeling all his supporters racists is not going to solve any problems. I’ve had a lot of Trump supporters pass by today and say ‘I agree with you!’ That tells me there’s room to find common ground.”

7th Street and D Street, 10:48 a.m.

Rodrigo Osorio, 22, came alone from San Marcos, Texas, to protest the inauguration. “I’m an immigrant; I’m gay. Trump is attacking everything I am.” Under Obama, Osorio was given DACA. “It helped me go to school, let me get a job. It gave me everything I have here.” Trump has pledged to roll back the program. “In fifty years, I need to be able to tell people that I was here. That I wasn’t afraid.”

Osorio tried to convince his friends and family to join him here, but they thought it would be too dangerous. “I told them that where there’s a will, there’s a way, so here I am.”

7th Street and D Street, 10:22 a.m.

Outside the security gates on 7th street and D, the crowd of protesters massing for the Answer Coalition rally take turns chanting “Black Lives Matter,” and “Trump says get back, we say fight back.” The line has barely moved for two hours, and as a slight rain begins to fall, the chants intensify — an effort to keep warm a full five hours before the presidential parade even begins.

Jamie Lesser, 21, came here with her two friends Claire Berger and Scott Daniel, both also 21, from Williamstown, MA. They’ll be marching tomorrow as well.

“We need to show there are actual bodies behind the people being attached by Trump,” Lesser told the Voice.

Daniel was clear on his role during the weekend. “As a white guy, the best I can do is keep quiet and show support for others by being here.”

Ian, 25, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, worried he was in the wrong line. “Maybe there are other security gates that are moving faster,” he said. He didn’t want to disclose his last name. Ian worked at the inauguration in 2009 and 2013 and supported Obama during the 2008 election. “But then I grew up and learned more about the world,” he said. He supported Trump for the entire campaign. “He’s tough enough to survive this media environment where if you’re telling the truth, you’re going to be slimed by the media.” Ian was especially concerned about the “PC culture” he was exposed to on his D.C.-area college campus. “Political correctness is the death of democracy.” Ian was clutching to small American flags and had come to the inauguration alone. He felt that protesters were being disrespectful to the office of the president by showing up. “They’re being vulgar.”

Amanda Warshaw, 19, was enjoying the signs that dotted the crowd. “My favorite was a photoshop of a street sign in floodwaters that said ‘But Her Emails.’ Sarcasm is an important thing to have.”

We continue to inch toward the entrance. Surrounded by fellow dissenters, spirits remain high.

Security Checkpoint, 300 India Avenue, 10:20 a.m.

Anti-Trump protesters have succeeded in shutting down many of the security checkpoints controlling access to the National Mall and today’s inauguration. Outside the city’s central police station, more than a thousand people organized around the Movement for Black Lives have formed a human wall blocking the gate, chanting “This checkpoint is closed!” A slow trickle of bewildered Trump supporters have made their way through the throng, attempting to get in, without success.

At times, the frustration has escalated into violence: A member of Bikers for Trump, clad in a black leather club vest, landed several head punches to a protester. After a protracted standoff, the knot of a couple dozen bikers retreated off to the side of the checkpoint.

Todd Peeler, 57, said he rode up from Charlotte, North Carolina to support the president elect. “Why is freedom only for them?” Peeler asked, gesturing towards the protesters. “We have a permit to be here. They don’t. Why are we supposed to be tolerant of them, but they’re not supposed to be tolerant of us?”

14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, 10 a.m.

A group of people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline has chained themselves to the inauguration parade route checkpoint here for the past hour or so, preventing anyone from entering.

Some protesters had linked arms, but the Metropolitan Police yanked them off and dragged them away. Others have their arms connected with PVC pipes, and police brought in saws to cut them off. “Water is life,” the protesters sang above the whir of the power saws.

One man with his hand in a PVC pipe shouted, “They don’t know where our hands are! This is not okay!” Another protester standing on the  other side of the barricade had a benediction for the police officers. “We’re praying for you!” he said. “We’re praying for the children!”

New York Avenue at 14th Street, 9:11 a.m.

Protesters and Trump supporters alike are converging on checkpoints along the inaugural parade route. Charles Johnson, a personal trainer from Toronto, said he came to D.C. because he was happy to see America elect an “alpha male” as president.

“I think the liberal media misconstrues what he says,” Johnson told the Voice. “We’ve gone so far left in America. I think things have gone too far in the globalist direction.”

Johnson couldn’t vote for Trump because he’s a Canadian citizen. “But I would’ve!”