Trump inauguration: Live coverage
What went down in D.C., the day Trump was sworn into office
The Undefeated got up at dawn Friday to bring you a full day of live coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration and what’s happening across D.C. Come back often to see what’s going on!
6:50 p.m. — By nightfall, the majority of people who still can’t believe Donald Trump is their president, numbering in the thousands, had moved to 12th and K streets. They burned copies of newspapers with portraits of Trump on them. They sat in semicircles and commiserated by candlelight, some singing somberly, others chanting angrily.
This was no longer a protest; it was a vigil – a vigil for mourners who think they have inexplicably lost their country.
“CAT-Scan The PSYCHOPATH” read a sign held up by a weather-beaten man of maybe 55, who happened to be white.
And the blond woman who held up “Good people aren’t rapists” and the black twin sisters who yelled, “Not my president! Not my president!”
And the teenage boys riding the Metro, from L’Enfant Plaza to the Shaw-Howard University stop on the Green Line, cursing and holding up middle fingers on both hands toward my iPhone camera, making a video my editors said was too profanity-laced to put up on the site. “Just shows you money can buy anything,” one said before he hitched his jeans up and the doors closed.
Members of Howard University’s football team were among the students who had the day off. They played pickup basketball in the school’s gymnasium. One, Charles Robinson, a safety on this year’s Bison team, was resigned to giving Trump a chance.
But he acknowledged he didn’t really know how to feel, because for more than a third of his life he’s only known one president – “And Obama is the president who really impacted all of our lives – all of us are about 18-23 here. And to go back to Trump, a man who has disrespected all kinds of races, is hard. But I have to give him a chance. There is no other choice.”
There is no other choice.
I had taken the Metro train from Silver Spring to L’Enfant Plaza early, then to Howard, and caught a cab to Ben’s Chili Bowl. I came back to the office and later walked five blocks to the protest, talking to people who came to “Make America Great Again,” and speaking with those who wanted to know exactly what they meant by that, people who believed deeply that things weren’t so bad to begin with, especially the last eight years.
If they could have had their own hats made today for the occasion, they would have simply read: America Held Hostage, Day 1.
If there was a prevailing mood on the streets of Washington today – from black D.C. to gentrified D.C. to every tourist decked in red and others who had actually come to march for women Saturday – it was resignation, the notion that Donald J. Trump had found enough fed-up and angry Americans to have their way.
Having been here for the past three inaugurations, the crowds on the streets in different parts of the city felt much sparser to me, much less riveted by the proceedings – especially when contrasted with Obama’s historic 2009 election.
Team Trump found their red-capped brethren, clapping and cheering mightily during the swearing-in portion of the day. And there were some heated and ugly confrontations, especially between protesters and police later in the afternoon.
But on the whole, today in the District of Columbia felt like every other day in America recently – divided, partisan, neither side nowhere close to listening to each other with an open mind. And the most depressing part about it was, both sides seemed very comfortable with that arrangement.
An anti-Trump protester tried to lend humor to the moment, dressing up as Vladimir Putin, replete with a Ivan Drago-accent from Rocky IV. But few laughed.
The number of American flags draped over the shoulders of Trump supporters, sewed into the back of their jean jackets – Stars and Stripes everywhere – caught the eye of many anti-Trump people.
As a woman named Chelsea said to an older lady who mocked her, “How come you have to wear your flags that big? It’s almost like people in the South used to wear their Stars and Bars, you know that? The American flag feels like it’s become the Confederate flag to some of you.”
The older lady lunged at Chelsea before her husband pulled her back in line in L’Enfant Plaza, where she would attend the inauguration of the man who followed Barack Hussein Obama into the White House. — Mike Wise
4:52 p.m. — It started with one man whisked away by police, his face flushed stop-sign red.
Then it was another. Same face, same police presence.
Five hundred feet ahead, at the corner of 12th and K streets, protesters and police in riot gear were getting up close and personal with one another. “Tear gas!” someone from the crowd yelled. Seconds later, another explosion. Then another. And one more. The blasts did little to deter the protesters from advancing as they hurled stones that bounced off law enforcement shields. The back-and-forth between the two sides mimicked the board game Battleship.
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) January 20, 2017
3:16 p.m. — I’m here at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a Washington landmark, in the middle of U Street, in the middle of President Trump’s inauguration day. Bricks are being thrown on 12th and K, garbage cans are being set on fire less than a mile away as protesters engage with police.
But here, the half-smokes sizzle on the grill and wait for the customers to smell the pork and the nitrates, inhale that steam coming from the burgers and dogs, and think of a world without President Barack Obama and, instead, Citizen Barack.
There is no division, save the young man in the red tie with far more liberal friends sitting in back. Almost all voted for Hillary Clinton, and if they didn’t, they can’t believe their black president is gone – even the white diners.
Clifford Ohrnberger, 27, from Brattleboro, Vermont, who works for World Learning, an educational organization, and Molly Cain, 24, from Seaford, Delaware, who works at a nonprofit in D.C. now, will take part in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday. Ohrnberger went to a protest for marijuana legalization earlier.
“We wanted to support a black-owned business,” Ohrnberger said. “We just felt like it was a more productive thing to do after the inauguration than light a garbage can on fire,” he added, as CNN showed ugly scenes with protesters in the background.
Added Cain: “We wanted to go to an iconic local place that serves a nearby community. And, yes, we’re both sad about President Obama leaving and President Trump taking his place.” — Mike Wise
Protestors shutting down 395 South. pic.twitter.com/UhoIM50AAZ
— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) January 20, 2017
1:11 p.m. — Moving away from Federal Center, the tension picks up almost instantly upon arriving at John Marshall Park, roughly a 12-minute walk from the National Mall.
“Donald Trump, KKK? How many kids have you killed today?” greets supporters and protesters. In the crowd were attendees who had been at the park since earlier in the morning, and there was a face-to-face meeting between Black Lives Matter and Bikers For Trump. The showdown reportedly didn’t last long, with both sides being separated with no physical altercations.
A block away on the corner of Sixth and Indiana, protesters blocked a street with chants directed to the new president, voicing frustrations on a litany of topics including Black Lives Matter, women’s rights and labor equality. As the crowd increased around them, so did participants who joined in.
Perhaps the most surreal moment of the day thus far occurred outside D.C.’s famed W Hotel. The Department of Treasury blocks the view of the inaugural ceremonies, but President Donald Trump’s voice billowed through loudspeakers and permeated the streets of D.C. that he will temporarily call home. Supporters stop and listen, captivated by the voice of the candidate they voted to lead America the next four years.
“That’s right!” one man yells as he holds his son’s shoulder. “Tell the truth!”
It’s tough to decipher what Trump is saying, though the repeated roaring ovations from the crowd seem to suggest more of a rally than inaugural address. Other supporters light cigarettes.
While Trump speaks and supporters attempt to listen intently, a heated debate erupts in the middle of 14th and F streets. The man is anti-abortion. The woman, pro-abortion rights.
“A baby is not your body!” he yells.
“My body, my choice!” she retorts, having to be held back. “F— you!”
It’s only a microcosm of the division and disdain that peppers the streets of, now, President Trump’s America. — Justin Tinsley
12:40 p.m. — “There are roughly three New Yorks,” E.B. White wrote in Here is New York. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something … Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ”
Today, there are just two Washingtons. There is, first, the Washington of a man or woman who knows deeply how wrong Donald Trump is for the nation and their own livelihood. They reside in places like Torrie’s on Georgia Avenue, a staple breakfast location across from Howard University Hospital, where most of the customers watch the inauguration, shaking their heads.
“They said his speech is about 20 minutes, you know why?” asks Bill Chapman, 62, a regular here at Torrie’s. “Because he’s got nothing to say. No substance, no real idea of how to be a president. Personally, I think he’s bought and paid for by Russia.”
His friends chimed in from neighboring booths as they poked at the fresh grits and home fries on their plates.
“You think he could give his speech and then get pneumonia like that one president [William Henry Harrison] a couple months later?” James Stephens, an Uber driver in a fedora who looked to be 60 years old, said from his seat at the counter as the president spoke from the lectern.
“Oh, no, you hearin’ everything in here today,” said L. Eady, the manager at Torrie’s, who asked that her first name not be used. A couple of moments later, she sat down, looked at the television and visage of the man with orange-blond hair in front of the microphone.
“Lawd, have mercy,” she said.
Second, there is the Washington of the red-clad visitors from the Rust Belt, Florida, Las Vegas, Southern Maryland and parts of America unknown. They come here for the elixir of hope they believe former President Barack Obama never provided them, and they’re hell-bent on celebrating the swearing-in of the man who openly mocked his opponents, women, Muslims, Hispanics and their values.
“I don’t have nothing against anyone who is nonwhite, but that’s what everybody that’s protesting is looking at me like,” said a student from West Allegheny High School in Western Pennsylvania who asked that his name not be used, as he stood by his classmates in their bright-yellow beanies. “I just have a problem with everybody sayin’ we are racist because we wanted him to be president.”
Divided city, divided nation.
“It won’t be that bad for that long,” Eady said, asking if you need toast and butter to go with your western omelet. “Pence will be president in six months or less. A man with that level of buffoonery and unprofessionalism won’t be able to be in office that long. Trust me.”
By Saturday, it will be back to the old Washington again, and they all resemble high school cliques that segregate in their own professional enclaves: the political set, the nongovernmental organization and nonprofit crowd, the native District of Columbian who can tell you where Griffith Stadium used to stand, the journos and an assortment of transient college graduates figuring out their identities and careers.
But today, for at least 24 hours, it feels as if two rival universities were locked in some yearlong, Dana White-promoted, Steel Cage Death Match. And when it was over, the school that had dominated the rivalry for the past eight years had to concede it had finally been beaten. — Mike Wise
— Tracee Wilkins (@TraceeWilkins) January 20, 2017
It's official. pic.twitter.com/54EwzHGuUc
— Ric Sanchez (@rcsanchez93) January 20, 2017
11:51 a.m. — Mark Johnson did a straight 14-hour shot, from Clearwater, Florida, to Silver Spring, Maryland, leaving at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and arriving at 3:33 a.m. He was dressed in a red, heavy coat, a “Make America Great Again” red ball cap and had an official inauguration invitation in his pocket from Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
He stayed at the home of Mary Drake, a personal friend.
“All I did was write a letter at the end of December and the letter came in the mail a couple weeks later,” he said, sitting on a Red Line Metro train at the Forest Glen stop, headed toward the Capitol.
He was surrounded mostly by commuters, who neither smiled nor paid him much attention.
This was his day, “the day that our country sets out a new path toward something much better.”
He told me his wife, Stephanie, is from Costa Rica and not a U.S. citizen. “She has her green card,” Johnson said, adding that his wife and her family were alarmed by the anti-immigration rhetoric. “But she’ll be OK. He’s not going to do anything like that, deport her or anything. [Trump] just wanted to scare some people.”
He laughed when he was told he essentially chose his candidate for president over his betrothed. When he got off the train to transfer to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop, he and a reporter encountered a slight, hard-featured Latino man on the platform, whom Johnson asked which train he should take.
“No Ingles,” the man said.
Johnson shook his head. “How do you come to America and you can’t even speak the language? What a damn shame.”
He slung his camera over his neck, jumped on the next Green Line Metro train toward L’Enfant Plaza and prepared to attend the 45th presidential inauguration. — Mike Wise
The crowd size comparison, from 2009 and today. pic.twitter.com/iMYZy9PRK8
— Matt Viser (@mviser) January 20, 2017
— Justin Tinsley (@JustinTinsley) January 20, 2017
Washington Post reporter Dalton Bennett thrown to the ground by riot police. pic.twitter.com/4I442QhEqM
— Alex Emmons (@AlexEmmons) January 20, 2017
9:32 a.m. — No sleep for the weary. No sleep for protesters, either. At the Van Dorn Street Metro station, even before daylight officially arrived, several protesters from Chicago awaited their trip into the nation’s capital. Protesters wearing T-shirts displaying “Look What The Russians Put In” — an obvious shot at the influence Russian president Vladimir Putin had on the 2016 election — and “Worst Swamp EVER” populated the waiting area.
It’s on these early morning Metro rides, vastly less crowded at 8 a.m. than expected on the day of an inauguration, where tension is omnipresent. Protesters stand silently by supporters. Supporters, in every type of Trump-related gear imaginable, smile and talk quietly among themselves.
However, it’s exiting the Federal Center SW Metro where the odds greatly shift into the pro-Trump favor. Thousands of supporters pour into the streets to wait in lines at the Silver and Orange gates entrances at the corner of Third and D streets. Trump USA beanies, pins, flags, scarfs and bucket hats paint the streets. Some young men even don their best Trump costume: blue blazer, oversize khakis and Make America Great Again hats. Vendors, much like at the Republican National Convention, are people of color, push popular Trump shirts and hats. One in particular sells “Obama bags.” He seems to have a problem pushing those, though one woman handed him $20. When he tried to give her a bag, she refused.
One vendor in particular, Stephen, traveled from Philadelphia for the event. He can’t seem to keep Trump hats long enough to sell them to young kids running up to him with $20. It’s a lucrative business with a clientele willing to fork over whatever he demands. Upon hearing the phrase “all money is green,” he lets out a laugh. “Fa sho’,” he says before advertising his products once more. “You already know.”
Elsewhere blocks away from the Federal Center SW Metro, supporters flock to the general admission near Seventh and D. If there are protesters here, they aren’t here yet. The weather — an impending downpour set to fall any minute — isn’t a deterrent. “Who cares!” one yells in his Make America Great Again hat and not much more protection than that. “It’s our day!” — Justin Tinsley