I don’t think there has been a better time to be in the heart of DC than this week.
On Friday, classes were cancelled, blockades were set up all over campus and security officers were on nearly every street in town, enforcing order and safety for those attending the inauguration. The wintry cold and rainy weather did not stop residents from all over America from turning up. Among a crowd of Trump supporters, we felt strangely out of sync and grew uncomfortable when the crowds started booing and displayed bouts of anger at other politicians and past presidents.
While the election outcome was fairly controversial, I was very glad to be able to see the inauguration up front, instead of laying on my couch behind a TV screen.
Post inauguration and after a hearty lunch of ramen (and defrosting our fingers), we walked right into a protest on K Street. Placards, posters and flags were raised high as people marched down the street, and things gradually turned nasty as the police were called in. Lucky for us, we were near the back of the clash but were still ultimately at the receiving end of the tear gas.
Saturday saw one of the largest protests ever in America – the Women’s March. Men and women descended on the mall early in the morning in glorious pink p*ssyhats to stand up for women’s rights. It was also their way of sending a message to the new administration, that they would retaliate if other basic rights such as racial equality and freedom of speech are threatened. And it was not just in DC – sister marches occurred all over the country: New York, Utah and California among many others. What I enjoyed a lot about the march was also the witty and humorous signs made by protestors, written out in colourful language that would not be appropriate here.
Protests were not common back home (they’re actually illegal) and while my eyes and legs were sore from 2 days worth of protests, it will definitely be an experience to remember.
The events of the weekend has taught me that things don’t always go the way they should. However, joining arms in solidarity and marching towards a common goal regardless of individual differences goes a long way in making a difference. It may not change the outcome of the election, but the craziness and unity exhibited by the thousands at the National Mall certainly swerves it onto a new course: the men, women and children of the world have their eyes on the White House and its new inhabitants.
For now, tension remains high and I’d like to remind everyone to be cautious of their actions and words in public to avoid needless risk and conflict.