//Yessica Leon celebrates Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s inauguration a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | Este.Fdez20B@gmail.com
Two looming crises the United States currently faces lent an eerie feeling to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.
The continuing threat of COVID-19 and concerns the nation would face another day of violence like the nation experienced just two weeks ago left the celebration unrecognizable from previous inaugurations.
In Washington, D.C., 25,000 National Guard troops from across the country flooded the streets in preparation for any attempts at another attack on the Capitol. Streets were barricaded blocks away from the building. The National Mall, usually packed shoulder-to-shoulder with spectators, was closed to the public. Thirteen Metro stations were closed, public busses were rerouted and trains passed through stations without stopping.
Due to the lockdown, well-wishers gathered in other areas of the city, like the newly-renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, to watch the event unfold on their phone screens. Tears of joy streamed down elated faces. Couples kissed and rejoiced. Throngs of American citizens clapped and shouted as a historic first was made. On Wednesday, the first woman to serve in the executive branch was sworn in. And the first female Vice President is a woman of color.
In Denver, a small group of leftist activists got to work on holding President Biden accountable for creating a more equitable nation. The low attendance numbers are most likely due to Facebook blocking the creation of events on Inauguration Day near the U.S. and state capitol buildings. Protesters marched from Cheeseman Park to the Colorado State Capitol, holding Black Lives Matter flags, End Keystone XL Pipeline signs and a banner that read “No Honeymoon for Biden.”
The day went off without any major confrontations or attacks in Denver. Several counterprotesters were present but swiftly removed by Denver police officers.
Here are the photos from several Ms. Mayhem photographers who were on the ground in both cities.
//Spectator and protester Bre Jones flies a kite in Black Lives Matter Plaza that reads, “Uncle Joe, Aunt Kamala, we the people are watching.” Spectators gathered near the barricades set up across the city to catch a glimpse of the Capitol Building and watch the inauguration ceremony on their phones on Jan. 20.
The church steeple on the left is St. John’s Episcopal, where law enforcement used tear gas to disperse the crowd during a George Floyd protest on June 1, 2020, ahead of a photo-op with former President Donald Trump.
“It’s important to understand even though we have a new president and vice president, we are still looking for radical change in America,” Jones said. “Trump is not the last stop. We need to put a magnifying glass on representatives.”
//National Guardsmen continue their patrol past revelers celebrating the end of the Trump administration and the swearing-in of Biden in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis sent 200 Colorado National Guard troops to assist with securing the Capitol due to fears of a recurrence of the violence on Jan. 6. The state was one of 40 to send Guardsmen to the capital city.
“My friends and family are about to go to war with each other,” said Richard Abel, a 24-year-old inauguration spectator about the political division in the country. “I went to school at American University. Half of my friends are Marxists. The other half of my friends are very staunchly conservative business owners and whatnot. There’s just such a divide even within my own social group. They can’t communicate with each other. They might be able to communicate with someone like me in the middle but they cannot communicate with each other. It terrifies me.”
//Black Lives Matter supporters gathered and celebrated near the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia following small protests that occurred at the State Capital where officials had curtailed public demonstrations during Lobby Day on Jan. 18 as the state perpares for armed protests in the seat of government with the approach of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Officials and police departments across the country were on high alert for possible attacks on state capitol buildings following the insurrection on Jan. 6 and threats of violence online. The threats appeared on platforms like Parler and TheDonald.win, which were both swiftly de-platformed by their respective hosts Amazon and Discord.
//Mike Dunn and his fellow members of the Last Sons of Liberty gather near the Virginia Capitol Square where officials had curtailed public demonstrations during Lobby Day on Jan. 18 as the state girds for armed protests in the seat of government with the approach of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Members of several different right-wing militias were present at the insurrection on Jan. 6 and were subsequently arrested. It was expected by officials that some QAnon supporters and militia members would be present in D.C. on Inauguration Day.
//National Guard troops man a checkpoint entrance for increased security measures around the U.S. Capital during the lead up to Inauguration Day following the insurrection that took place on Jan. 6.
In preparation for the ceremony, 25,000 National Guardsmen were deployed.
//A National Guardsman stands at his post during the inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. Police and Guardsmen overwhelmed the city, but the day did not end without incident. D.C. and Capitol police responded to four bomb threats and three arrests were made. Due to the insurrection on Jan. 6 and the threats on Inauguration Day, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has instructed officials to maintain enhanced security measures. As such, D.C. National Guard are expected to have a presence in the city through the end of January, focused on crowd control and traffic management.
//Group of protesters burn American flag in front of the Colorado State Capitol after the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20. Several American flags were burned by the small group of activists, and the fires were repeatedly put out by Denver police officers.
The small group of protesters was overwhelmed by the number of journalists and police that were present.
//A member of the pro-Chicano organization La Casa, otherwise known as the Brown Berets, gives a speech at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 20. The Brown Berets were one of several activist groups with a presence at the Capitol on Inauguration Day, including Black Lives Matter and the Denver AntiFascist League.
//Police officers watch over protestors from the balcony of the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 20. There were concerns from police departments and officials across the country that there would be attacks on state capitols on Inauguration Day after the insurrection that took place two weeks prior on Jan. 6. Denver police officers had an overwhelming presence at the Capitol and along the marching route from Cheeseman Park.
//In protest, Donguenick Beasley prays out loud for a unified country at state troopers in front of the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 20. A small crowd mixed of different left-leaning groups protested on Inauguration Day.
“Is that love and prosperity on your hip brother? If I said I was hungry, would you feed me?” Beasley asked the state troopers. “I’m going to keep y’all in prayer.”
//Remnants of an American flag protesters burned in front of the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 20. The inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris earlier that day brought out a crowd of about 100 people. They called on the Biden administration to honor its promises on the campaign trail including seeking racial and environmental justice.
//A man holds his fist up in the air in solidarity with a group of people marching down Denver’s 16th Street Mall on Inauguration Day. Demonstrators were chanting Black Lives Matter and calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
The march was an attempt to hold President Biden accountable for his campaign promises of creating a more equitable country, especially in the wake of the national Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Several protesters in Denver focused their attention on overturning the Keystone XL Pipeline permit, which Indigenous leaders and allies have spent years fighting. One of the 17 executive orders Biden signed his first day in office was to revoke the permit.
//Colorado State Patrol extinguish a fire at a demonstration outside the Capitol on Inauguration Day. A coalition of antifascists burned multiple American flags. Flags continued to burn despite law enforcement’s efforts to put the fire out.
Biden supporters and critics rallied around the Capitol in solidarity to protest police brutality and racial injustice. One of the events on Jan. 20 was billed as the “No Honeymoon for Biden” march.
//The remnants of one of the several American flags left-wing protesters in front of the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 20 after state troopers attempted to put the fires out. One counterprotester persistently circled around the burning flags attempting to put them out. At one point a left-wing protester allegedly took the man’s hat and burned it as well. Police has to escort the counterprotester away from the small group several times.
//State troopers stand armed with pepper ball guns and zip tie cuffs at the Colorado State Capitol. The troopers seemed to be overprepared for the crowd they were maintaining, as there were only about 100 protesters and a handful of counterprotesters. The day ended with no major confrontations.
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