When I arrived across the street from The Capitol, I was immediately overwhelmed. I'm not going to lie, I felt inadequate. I felt pressured. I felt ready to go home. I wanted to go into this as objectively as humanly possible. Being an individual with strong opinions on just about anything, that can be a challenge. But this job is way more important to me than my own personal needs, or even wants. I've put it above everything. I lose sleep, money, time, I couldn't even tell you if I've had the chance to eat this last week. It's not just personal to me, I want it to be personal for you. Personal enough that you're no longer on a side, you're just standing in the middle of it. Walking the line between the two. Which is literally what I was doing a lot of the time. The division was breathtaking, in the kind of way that hurts. It was disorienting. What had I just wandered into. And where. This wasn't my country. This wasn't even real life. It didn't even feel like a movie. It felt like one of those dreams you have about the world ending. Where everything is upside down, and turned around, and gloomy.
I'll start by saying that there were definitely more Trump supporters there than I expected. Not in any way the most ever, but a lot. I think the constant talk about low ticket sales and Donald Trump having to advertise on Facebook two days before, urging people to come out, messed with my head. Or maybe it was just shocking seeing a visual representation of the amount of people who actually voted for him. For the most part, they were all well behaved. Way more than they are on the internet. Especially considering that they had multiple crowds of people around them chanting different anti Trump jargons. My personal opinion; they all seemed a little scared. And who can blame them. The way protesting has been portrayed, you wouldn't believe that there was any other way to do it. They stayed silent. Words were barely shared amongst themselves. There was little to no excitement. No signs. No banners. No cheers. Just a sea of their red hats. I couldn't believe it. A large amount didn't even stay to watch his parade. This was their guy. I'm very used to Trump supporters being the most vocal, so I had a hard time truly understanding this. I found myself coming back to this thought regularly throughout the day. When I did speak to them, they were all really nice, many tried to talk politically with me, assuming for some reason, that I had the same views as them. My only explantation for this? Because I was white. I'm going to attempt to say this in the most unbiased way that I can, just being observant, and seeing with my own two eyes; the majority turnout for Trump was white America.
The protesters definitely took over the streets. I really didn't want to spend much time focusing on them, since I would be doing that the following day at the Women's March. But it was nearly impossible. To them this was their day, just as much as it was Donald Trump's. They didn't want him enjoying it. They shutdown check points, and caused security to lockdown entrances into The National Mall, causing longer lines, making it impossible for even me to get inside before Trump put his hand on the bible.
I unfortunately was not anywhere near the rioting/vandalism that went on, so I can't comment on it. I was however in the middle of a fight between a Trump supporter who attempted to get through a line of protesters, by bum-rushing them out of nowhere. He was eventually pulled away by his wife and two young children. In another area, an egg was thrown by a protester at one of the Bikers for Trump. I went over to him and told him I definitely didn't agree with that, and handed him some napkins. He threw them on the floor, and got some from his own bag. Okay, cool.
The parade was intense. I got through security about 3 minutes before Donald Trump arrived. So I had no time to adjust to the fact that this wasn't a celebration, this was an attack. If there were Trump supporters present there, they were completely outnumbered and out booed. A part of me almost even felt bad for him. This was his moment. And they made sure to take that away from him.
It's taken me days to process all of this. And i'm not even really done yet. The one major thing that i've learned from this, is that we are all the problem. I totally and completely understand why news organizations lean specific ways, and have their own agendas. We need to start checking ourselves. The media will not change unless we do. I watched some of you selectively like images, selectively ignore images. You wrote only on the ones you could say something negative about. Shared only the ones that fit your personal opinion. Said absolutely nothing at all, but made it a point to like the comment from the negative comments. Gained a follower from a pro Trump image, lost a follower from a protester calling Trump out on his 1% cabinet. We can't call it fake news, if we are the ones refusing to be real. I'm trying to be real.
For the most part though, my friends and family, seriously, thank you for the support. I've never in my entire life received so much love. You guys have gone out of your way to check on me, message me, call me. So much encouragement has gone on, I just feel so insanely lucky. I had no idea so many of you appreciate what I do. Thank you. One million times.
(some pictures have captions.)