Washington woke early Friday in a light drizzle and facing the prospect of a new presidency which few deny will redefine the United States in the four years to come.
Most streets were closed in downtown Washington and intersections were lined up with buses, trucks and even humvees, as well as security personnel of all ranks and uniforms, to ensure that all goes along as planned at the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president.
Hard-core supporters defied the cold and rainy weather to show up at the U.S. Capitol as early as 5:30 a.m. EST (1030 GMT), eagerly waiting over six hours for the man they hope would bring jobs, wealth, safety and above all, greatness back to their country.
Like in a sports game, many spectators chose to put on the color of their home team, the Republican red, which was displayed on the popular “Make America Great Again” baseball hats or star-spangled scarfs.
Local media reported that just under 1 million were estimated to have attended the ceremony, about half the turnout at Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Most of those who showed up to support Trump on the West front of the Capitol Building were white.
“The U.S. can use a businessman in the White House rather than a career politician,” said Robert Scott, an aerospace industry worker from Dayton, Ohio. “Once people go to work, it will solve a lot of our problems.”
Amid the fanfare that began around 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT), Congress members, members of the incoming administration, Donald Trump’s family, former U.S. presidents, and finally Trump himself appeared in front of the crowd, but to drastically different reactions from the mass.
In tier one was Trump, his family members and Vice President Mike Pence, then came former Republican President George W. Bush, who were welcomed by chants of “Trump” or “USA”.
In contrast, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who fought Trump bitterly in the most negative presidential race in modern history, only received a courteous round of applause at best.
The audience showed an unhidden disdain for Democrats, laughing when Hillary’s face came on the big screen, and booing repeatedly when Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, delivered his speech.
An elderly Trump supporter of Westchester County, New York, who identified herself as Susan, said she disliked Clinton, who lived “ten minutes away,” because she didn’t trust her.
The climax of the ceremony took place at a little past 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT), when Trump came onto the balcony.
After taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible used for the inauguration of the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Trump lashed out at the political establishment and vowed to give the power “back to the people.”
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” Trump said.
But as supporters cheered Trump’s promise to “Hire American, Buy American,” protesters were demonstrating just blocks away, smashing shop windows and burning trash cans.
The police said that 95 people were arrested as of 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT), in a wave of violence that erupted near the White House, right after the end of the swearing-in ceremony.
Police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the protesters who hurled objects, including bottles and rocks, at them near the 12th and K streets, only blocks away from the White House.
Calvin, a graphic designer student from Baltimore, said he is against Trump’s economic, racist and sexist policies, while Elise of California said she is against the militarization of the police.
But most of the protests across the capital, organized by anti-Trump groups including Disrupt J20, the ANSWER Coalition and Black Lives Matter, were peaceful amid heavy security.
In downtown Washington, about 28,000 security officials, including some 7,800 National Guard troops, were deployed to guard the checkpoints and the parade route.
Trump’s promises received mix reviews in a divided nation. His supporters ask, why not give him a chance? While his opponents say his “America First” pledge is really just “Trump First.” Enditem