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Voices from the Inaugural Crowd

Omri Nahmias, Washington, D. C.

The carnival atmosphere that gripped Washington in the days leading up to the transfer of power was either a celebration or a dirge. Mishpacha reports from Washington

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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HOPE FOR THE FUTURE “He promised and hopefully, he will keep his word,” says Larry Cordero, an army veteran from San Antonio, Texas. “I think he will. We need to give him a chance. There are some people who won’t, but let’s hope those who do will prove them all wrong” (Photos: AP, Omri Nahmias)

I nauguration Day is always a staid and structured ceremony, complete with benedictions, administering the oath of office to the incoming president, and a 21-gun salute. Friday’s inauguration of Donald John Trump as America’s 45th president was no different, yet the carnival atmosphere that gripped Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to the transfer of power was either a celebration or a dirge, depending on which candidate you supported.

Groups of protestors, hoisting pro and anti-Trump placards, competed for attention on issues ranging from climate change and the environment to abortion to Obamacare.

In all, police granted an estimated 100 permits to protestors. Each group staked out a location or set up a tailgating party for their demonstration in the nation’s capital.

For most of the week, the competing sides stayed clear of each other and the atmosphere was even festive. Since demonstrators were kept at a distance from invited guests, one group, calling itself Bikers for Trump, built stands from which they could watch the swearing-in ceremony. Nobody bothered them, even when passersby took photos or just stood around to gaze.

But as the noon hour approached on Friday, the atmosphere became charged.

A group of anarchists shattered windows at iconic American businesses like Bank of America, McDonald’s, and Starbucks. Six police officers were injured in the melees and 217 demonstrators were arrested.

Seating for the inauguration was divided into two levels: a few hundred administration insiders and top supporters were seated on an upper level — including four former presidents. On the lower level sat tens of thousands of Main Street Americans, who hooted and hollered throughout the ceremony, including one man with a healthy set of lungs who shouted out his disgust for CNN — the network Trump loves to hate — every two minutes or so.

When Trump approached the podium to take the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, he did so to a smattering of both applause and boos, accompanied by some shouts of “not my president,” a sentiment reinforced by some 60 Congressional Democrats who boycotted the inauguration.

(L-R) Oded Revivi, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Benny Kashriel share common ground at an inaugural party

Even after the inauguration, tensions were evident when Trump supporters with credentials passed demonstrators who had set up shop at the intersection of E Street and 7th Street Southwest, where police had set up a security checkpoint for people entering the National Mall. 

The demonstrators who voted for the losing candidate still view Trump as an illegitimate president, whose path to the White House was paved by Russian government hacks and an FBI that released damaging information on Hillary Clinton in the final, crucial two weeks before the November 8 election.

Trump supporters view these protesters as sore losers who are undermining democracy. Yet even some on the winning side seem intent on rubbing it in, with souvenir booths still selling t-shirts with anti-Hillary slogans.

During the week, we took a sampling of some of these competing viewpoints, speaking to the man on the street, attending pro- and anti-Trump rallies — even an Obama going-away party. Each side is clearly still digesting the remains of a boisterous campaign and manning the barricades in expressing their views.

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