On the frigid morning of Jan. 20, swarms of people trekked through sludge and snow across Washington, D.C., to the base of the Capitol to anxiously await the 55th Inaugural events.
Some were eager spectators, sporting Bush pins, "W” caps and the occasional American-flag, cowboy hat or blanket to support newly reelected President George W. Bush as he was sworn into office. Others that afternoon, including about 15 Blazers, chanted anti-Bush mantras and carried angry signs declaring Bush the "Worst President Ever” while marching from Dupont Circle and Malcolm X Park to the outskirts of the parade site.
Regardless of their political ideologies, Blazers took advantage of their early dismissal from exams to journey through the cold and endure hour-long security lines to take part in the Inauguration as either spectators or protestors. In an election year where so many youths actively voiced their opinions in politics, Blazers got a front-row seat to history as the 43rd President of the United States was sworn into office.
Senior William McManigle, who received a ticket to the Inauguration from social studies teacher Kevin Shindel, supports some of Bush's policies and considers the ceremony to have been an eye-opening experience. "Going to the Inauguration, meeting people from Texas to Michigan to Florida, I realized that pro-Bush sentiments run far and wide across America, and the liberal environment we live in isn't consistent throughout the nation,” he says.
During the Inauguration, McManigle noticed how Blair's predominantly left-wing ideology influenced his interpretation of the event. During the ceremony, he explains that an encore of "Boo”s erupted from the mass of spectators. "My first reaction was, 'Oh, Bush must have come,'” McManigle says. "But then I looked up and saw [Senator John} Kerry and [former President Bill] Clinton.”
Not my President
Unlike McManigle, sophomore Nic Lukehart did not show up to support the Inauguration events. He joined the protesting masses at the Inauguration dressed in a collared shirt, a stark contrast to his punk-style Mohawk. During President Bush's parade, he jumped up on one of the exclusive, ticket-only bleachers at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, seats reserved for spectators, and gave a Nazi salute. "Heil the Führer!” he shouted. Lukehart then unbuttoned his shirt and revealed an anti-Bush T-shirt.
Immediately, Bush supporters angrily responded to his outspoken protest, but Lukehart took it in stride. "I really don't want to see this man in office,” he rationalizes. "I'll do whatever it takes to send the message.”
Sophomore Justin Vlasits joined protestors who marched from Malcolm X Park down 16th Street carrying "Not My President” signs until they reached the parade bleachers.
Senior Adair Brown, who also attended the protest at Malcolm X Park, describes how protesters carried cardboard coffins draped in flags and black cloths on their shoulders in order to "show how many people had died and what America was doing,” she says.
The most important aspect of protesting is showing that there is dissent, says Vlasits, especially for students under 18. "We want our voices heard, especially those of us who didn't get to vote.”
"A puddle of pepper-spray”
Peaceful protest gave way to violence in some areas of D.C. during the Inaugural parade. Brown, who eventually joined up with an anarchist march, found her friends "in a puddle of pepper-spray” after the anarchist group infiltrated a section of the parade route and defied police authority. To clear the route, police sprayed the protestors. "The sidewalk was wet from [the spray]. The people were soaking. When you walked down the streets, you could feel your eyes tearing up, and it hurt to breathe,” she says.
The D.C. police force, U.S. Capitol Police and other agencies deployed 6,000 law enforcement officials as security measures for the Inauguration, according to The Washington Post. D.C. spent a total of $17 million, according to National Public Radio. Six protestors at the Inauguration were arrested.
Sophomore Felicia Olawuni believes protesting at the Inauguration is inappropriate and ineffective. "Bush was elected two months ago. It's too late to bring him down; he's already in office,” she explains. "Protesting is useless; it's just too late.”
Brown, on the other hand, remains resolute that protesting is suitable at an Inauguration. "If you're passionate about something, you've got to stay by what you believe,” she says. "You can't just back down graciously.”
Danny Scheer. Danny Scheer. WHAT??????? YA YA YA YA YA!!!!!! Danny WUVS a lot. Especially poems. That begin with TRANSIBUNT!!!! LOL LOL LOL By the way, Danny likes movies and bands that begin with the letter "B" and "D" and "T" and "J" and "M" and "C" … More »
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