march1

Features

A Weekend Divided | Part 1

Hopeful supporters and weary dissenters collide on Inauguration Day.

All along the National Mall on Inauguration Day, Americans stood together to watch a transfer of power some believe will make America great again and others see as a threat to the foundational values of their country.

Most were there to celebrate — a sea of hopefuls in bright red hats waiting eagerly for Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States.

People in line for the non-ticketed admission areas to open talked about how they had been waiting since 4 a.m. just to be as close as possible to the proceedings.

Like waves, the reactions of the pro-Trump crowd ebbed and flowed.

As former opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton took their seats onstage, a chorus of booing could be heard from the supporters.

The soon-to-be president’s entrance was met with a more positive reaction.

“U.S.A, U.S.A!” the crowd chanted as he moved to take the oath.

Despite the possibility of rain ruining his artwork, a young man showed his patriotism with face paint — half blue-with-white stars, half red-and-white stripes — and a MAGA hat assuring his allegiance to the new administration.

Some people draped flags over their shoulders to assure other attendees that they supported America, Trump or Israel. Others used their makeshift capes to let their neighbors know they would not be tread on.

New York City’s infamous Naked Cowboy transferred to D.C. for the weekend to serenade the waiting audience. The street performer wore nothing but his signature cowboy hat and boots, his guitar and a pair of briefs with “TRUMP” written in red and blue across the butt.

C-SPAN handed out buttons bearing Trump’s face while the National Parks Service used its buttons to commemorate the 58th Presidential Inauguration.

A small crowd clapped as a camouflage-clad young man told a group holding anti-deportation signs that they were wrong. Trump only wanted to free America of all the bad people who are now allowed to cross the border, he told them.

“Sorry, dude,” someone else said to a grumbling Hillary Clinton supporter. “Sorry, it happened.”

Armed with signs and sarcasm, protesters stood unflinchingly next to their Trump-supporting counterparts.

When a portion of the crowd booed former First Lady Michelle Obama, a few young adults wondered aloud if the action was disrespectful.

One girl thought it was, but her friend jokingly disagreed because of the Obama’s healthy-living-in-schools campaign.

“She took the muffins that I really liked away,” he said.

Others made unprompted comments.

“Pence is gay guys — he just came out!” a man screamed when the soon-to-be Vice President emerged from inside the Capitol.

At the front of general admission, 64-year-old Seattle native Trip Allen drew plenty of Trump supporters’ attention. He wore a long yellow raincoat and carried a Black Lives Matter sign stuck with painter’s tape to a bright pink Thunderstick — an inflatable noisemaker passed out at sporting events to make everyone as loud as possible.

“What about my life?” someone taunted a few feet behind Trip. “What about my life? I’m a white person. My life matters, too!”

Trip argued back that white people are already privileged, saying he was more concerned about the lives of his sister, who had come with him from Chicago and those of his young adult children.

Even as a few more people joined in on the yelling, Trip did not become visibly frightened. He said there was too much security for him to worry about anyone retaliating.

“I could not sit by and let democracy fade away,” Trip said. “I felt like I had to bear witness and raise my voice, right at this moment.”

Security had specific regulations for the crowd about signs and banners at the inauguration. They demanded the posters be within certain dimensions and banned any poles or supports to hold up posters altogether. Trip’s sign was only slightly larger than a piece of computer paper, and he wasn’t using a traditional support to hold his message above the crowd.

The Thunderstick did not faze the group of soldiers standing on the other side of the crowd-control fence, but others were not so stoic.

“I would take a licking and not think a second about it if somebody’s gonna beat me up,” Trip said.

He was too far away for anyone at the Capitol to hear him, but that didn’t stop him from screaming obscenities at former President George W. Bush or calling Trump’s children the “children of the damned.”

Although he stood alone, many other dissenters also had the same idea to come watch the inauguration.

Georgetown freshman Taylor Kelleher and her friend Teresa Montenegro also a freshman, moved up to the fence to offer Trip security and solidarity with their presence.

As the three stood together, the students turned their backs to the All Lives Matter crowd and did not try to argue the politics of the moment.

Teresa wore a Bernie Sanders shirt to the ceremony, but the two women said they did not attend the inauguration for the sake of protesting.

“We thought we should be here whether or not we agree with it,” Taylor said.

The two said they are concerned for Trump’s presidency because of what it might mean for them as queer women.

“Even walking here today, it still hasn’t settled in, but I think it’s important either way to be here,” Teresa said.

They said they weren't too concerned about their safety at the inauguration, but the threat of the future still weighed on them.

“I think we’re tense,” Teresa said. “As two queer people in a non-majority group, I think it’s uncomfortable.”

In the middle of the partisanship even the National Mall itself became a political polarizer.

The usual grassy expanse of the Mall took shelter under white plastic panels put down by the Parks Service.

It saved the shoes of everyone who may have otherwise been stuck in the mud as well as the Park Service’s work on maintaining the lawn, but it failed to keep Trump’s ego clean.

Although there is no official number, the D.C. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management estimated before the ceremony that between 800,000 and 900,000 people would be in attendance. This meant a large crowd would be there to celebrate the transition of power, but it did not fill the whole Mall.

On Twitter and TV, Trump and his team argued otherwise, but large swaths of white space remained in different areas of the Mall like the half-filled pages at the end of the chapters of a book.

A young girl — her candidate allegiance undeterminable from the plain winter clothes she wore — used the temporary white, plastic flooring to her advantage to glide around in a pair of black Heelys as she and her mother headed toward the information booth.

All the while, soldiers lined the fences, stationed wherever the barricades separated one entrance from the next. Throughout the ceremony, they rarely turned around, exercising their self-discipline to keep their eyes on the impassioned civilians.