Thousands of hopeful Donald Trump supporters without tickets to the inauguration ceremony lined up Friday, trying to gain access through general admission, hoping to celebrate a historic moment. Those hopes were crushed as long lines turned into waits longer than four hours and caused supporters to miss the live ceremony.
Attendees started lining up at the checkpoint on Sixth Street – one of the only checkpoints open to the non-ticketed public – since 9 a.m., yet some were stuck in the chilly, rainy weather until 2 p.m., two hours after President Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Rebecca Chandler, a 72-year-old retiree from Nashville, thought she lined up early enough when she arrived at 9:30 a.m. and would be past the checkpoint “in no time.” Instead, she was stuck in line and ended up watching Trump’s inaugural speech on her smartphone.
“They got us trapped and won’t let us in, it’s crazy. We’ve been waiting for four hours, we missed the swearing-in ceremony and we are still stuck here,” Chandler said. “I thought I could at least catch a bit of his speech, but no, I’m still stuck here and I better get in for the parade.”
Supporters who stood in line for up to five hours eventually got to enter the parade area, though many were frustrated with having to wait so long.
Some attributed the long wait to the slow security checks – full bag checks and only two metal detectors for thousands of people.
“I get there’s only two working machines and they want to be as safe as possible, but we are moving 10 feet an hour,” said Jacob Thomas, 47, from Tallahassee, Fla. “I would try my luck at another checkpoint, but I have already waited two hours.”
The entrance, manned by the Secret Service, Transport Security Administration and Military Police, also had a group of protesters causing an obstruction.
“They are clogging up our entrance and dampening our celebrations. They should stop disrupting our event,” said Ryan Donovan, 52, a businessman from New Jersey. “They can say what they want, I don’t care, just stop disrupting us, and they shouldn’t be allowed in if they are going to do so.”
Jimmy Knight, a 65-year-old retiree, said he could not fathom what the protesters were trying to do in their resistance to Trump’s every policy.
“When Obama won, we didn’t do this. We were mad, sure, but we accepted defeat with grace. This is just silly and, quite frankly, annoying,” he said. “Many of us are here to have a good time and celebrate a new history being made, and they are stirring up trouble. They can say what they want but nothing will change. Get over it.”
Megan Spurrow, 42, who owns a landscaping business in Massachusetts, flew down to the capital for the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21 but decided to peacefully protest on the day of inauguration as well. She said she is aware it will be difficult to get her message across in a zealous pro-Trump atmosphere but felt a responsibility to do something.
“I don’t expect to change people’s mind, but at least there will be voices heard,” Spurrow said.
Past the Sixth Street checkpoint, blocks away from the parade route on K Street, protesters and police clashed, with at least 95 people being arrested, according to the New York Times.
The news quickly spread around the lines of disgruntled people waiting to enter, and some used it as an instant talking point to reinforce how their vote for Trump was what the United States needed to “shape the country up.”
“Imagine what our country can achieve when all of us stop arguing with each other, stop being divided, and actually unite under one God and one flag,” Knight said. “We can do so much then. Under the guidance of Trump, we can.”