The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Heavy Security As Washington Prepares For Massive Inaugural Protests

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Washington turned into a virtual fortress on Thursday ahead of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, while thousands of people took to the streets of New York to express their displeasure with his coming administration.

Some 900,000 people, both Trump backers and opponents, are expected to flood Washington for Friday’s inauguration ceremony, according to organizers’ estimates. Events include the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and a parade to the White House along streets thronged with spectators.

The number of planned protests and rallies this year is far above what has been typical at recent presidential inaugurations, with some 30 permits granted in Washington for anti-Trump rallies and sympathy protests planned in cities from Boston to Los Angeles, and abroad in cities including London and Sydney.

The night before the inauguration, thousands of people turned out in New York for a rally at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and then marched a few blocks from the Trump Tower where the businessman lives.

The rally featured a lineup of politicians, activists and celebrities including Mayor Bill de Blasio and actor Alec Baldwin, who trotted out the Trump parody he performs on “Saturday Night Live.”

“Donald Trump may control Washington, but we control our destiny as Americans,” de Blasio said. “We don’t fear the future. We think the future is bright, if the people’s voices are heard.”

In Washington, police cars lined much of Pennsylvania Avenue, the parade route, as workers unloaded crowd control fences from flatbed trucks, erected barricades and marked off pavement with tape.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said police aimed to keep groups separate, using tactics similar to those employed during last year’s political conventions.

“The concern is some of these groups are pro-Trump, some of them are con-Trump, and they may not play well together in the same space,” Johnson said on MSNBC.

Trump opponents have been angered by his comments during the campaign about women, illegal immigrants and Muslims and his pledges to scrap the Obamacare health reform and build a wall on the Mexican border.

The Republican’s supporters admire his experience in business, including as a real estate developer and reality television star, and view him as an outsider who will take a fresh approach to politics.

Bikers for Trump, a group that designated itself as security backup during last summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, is ready to step in if protesters block access to the inauguration, said Dennis Egbert, one of the group’s organizers.

“We’re going to be backing up law enforcement. We’re on the same page,” Egbert, 63, a retired electrician from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

About 28,000 security personnel, miles of fencing, roadblocks, street barricades and dump trucks laden with sand are part of the security cordon around 3 square miles (8 square km) of central Washington.

A protest group known as Disrupt J20 has vowed to stage demonstrations at each of 12 security checkpoints and block access to the festivities on the grassy National Mall.

Police and security officials have pledged repeatedly to guarantee protesters’ constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.

Aaron Hyman, fellow at the National Gallery of Art, said he could feel tension in the streets ahead of Trump’s swearing-in and the heightened security was part of it.

“People are watching each other like, ‘You must be a Trump supporter,’ and ‘You must be one of those liberals’,” said Hyman, 32, who supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election.

Friday’s crowds are expected to fall well short of the 2 million people who attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, and be in line with the 1 million who were at his second in 2013.

Forecast rain may also dampen the turnout, though security officials lifted an earlier ban on umbrellas, saying small umbrellas would be permitted.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washigton, and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Youtube Screenshot

In late 2011, John Oliver and his Daily Show cameraman made a trek to my office, then in Providence, Rhode Island, to take me to task. I had recently referred to the Tea Partiers who had pushed America to the brink of a disastrous default as "economic terrorists."

Oliver had apparently swallowed whole a series of barbs directed my way by a Wall Street Journal blogger who didn't seem to like women much. The blogger kept calling me the "Civility diva" and a "Baroness Catherine Ashton lookalike." (A member of the British parliament, Ashton was said to be homely.) He was quite the wit.

Keep reading...Show less

Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Youtube Screenshot

Several mainstream media outlets are manufacturing a political narrative that the discovery of classified documents at the homes of both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence should alleviate pressure on disgraced former President Donald Trump, who not only took a vast trove of federal records but also refused to give them back.

Biden and Pence have both cooperated with federal investigators to recover and return documents that belong to the government, and both situations have rekindled scrutiny at the overall system of federal document classification and retention, which appears to be in serious need of reform. Their two examples stand in stark contrast to Trump’s behavior, and possible misconduct, regarding his own handling of government records.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}