Pressure cooker

Security keeps thousands from witnessing oath of office as pro- and anti-Trump protesters vie for recognition

By Lora-Marie Bernard – the county’s only reporter covering the presidential inauguration

HOURS BEFORE Donald Trump took his presidential oath on Friday morning, thousands of people made the walk to Washington’s Mall lined by protesters who at times concentrated on protesting each other.
While viewers at home were watching the television and live-stream broadcasts, hundreds of thousands stood in line at various entry points along the inauguration area’s perimeter where handfuls of demonstrations occurred.
Many who wanted to witness the inauguration from the Mall did not make it inside the entry points. Security guards filled tents where they inspected every bag that each person carried. At the time Trump took office, many thousands were still outside, relegated to watching a jumbo screen through chain-link fences around the perimeter of the Washington Monument.
At the monument, a few passers-by chanted protests and vulgarities to Trump but most did not approach those watching the protest. Sometimes, however, opposing groups chose
to protest each other.
At the city’s L’Enfant Plaza metro stop, hundreds were in line watching protesters hoisting 10-foot signs into the air. The discontented proclaimed the need to seek forgiveness from Jesus, resist homosexuality and stop immigration. One sign read that Christ has a pressure-cooker for Muslims, a slogan that incensed another protester. “You are crazy for saying God has a pressure cooker”, screamed Will Menta of Michigan, a protester who walked with the crowd as he handed out election reform materials. “That is no God I want anything to do with.”
The challenge began a rebuke from other protesters, who said Menta needed to repent of his sins. He said after the exchange that he had traveled to Washington to protest the election system and to promote the need for social reform.
“This country is unhappy with the choices we had”, he said, referring to Trump and his presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Most American were not happy but these were the only two choices we were given”.
Menta said he wanted to spark a conversation about adding a third major political party. He advocated for the kinds of reform made in Maine that pave the way for a more integrated party system.
The line of inauguration watchers walked past the protesters while Menta stopped to talk to them about his reform ideas. As they reached the federal aviation building, they walked on the lawn and jumped over barricades to make their way to the court of the James Forrestal building, where an organized group of Standing Rock protestors held a rally titled It Takes Roots.
Spokesperson Dallas Goldtooth rallied a small group of onlookers with a reminder that they would fight for the nation’s national resources and the end of pollution. He also advocated for closing tax loopholes that allow big business advantages.
He said the stresses of Standing Rock and the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline had created post traumatic stress disorders but the fight to stop national political influences will not end.
“We are on the front line of the destitute”, he said. “But we are also on the front line of solutions”.
After his rally speech, Goldtooth said the It Takes Roots effort has become a national movement and that he hopes it will build momentum when it forges a collaboration with Black Lives Matter, Food Justice and other social-
reform organizations.
“What you will see is mobility across the board to make sure they do not do further damage to our communities”, he said.
“On critical points, like community projects, we will take action”.
As the crowd moved to Independence Avenue, a calmness filled the air as thousands of people waited patiently to enter the general admission checkpoint into the Mall. Protesters were ignored by many of the people in line.
Two Long Island teens silently held a six-foot Trump flag while protesters walked past them with signs that sent a death wish to the incoming president. The teens, who gave only their first names, said they had entered a contest at the island’s Longwood high school to win a chance to attend the Inauguration and were two of 40 students chosen.
Brendan, 17, said “I have been supporting him since he first ran”, while Jared, also 17, said he had thrown his support behind Trump after Libertarian-party rival Gary Johnson dropped out of the presidential election race.
• Read about the county connection with the inauguration in more on-the-ground reports by Lora-Marie Bernard in Sunday’s edition.

Top, the US Capitol from the National Mall shortly after the inauguration; above, a DC bus is used as a barrier to prevent free public access to the Mall – Photos by Lora-Marie Bernard

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