January 20th, 2017.
A day that I had been dreading for some time now, since President Trump's win of the election. I had planned to protest and boycott by staying home and paying no attention to him or what he loves to call "Fake News".
But being that I am a photographer and that the day was one that would go down in history, there was no way I could miss it. I planned not to go to Inauguration, but to move from protest to protest and capture the moments that people don't see on their televisions.
Matt (a friend and fellow photographer) and I headed out to the metro station to take the train to closest stop to the protest. The ride took some time, filling up more and more as we got deeper in the city. Once we were out and on the streets, I expected things to be tense, and was truly surprised when it wasn't.
We walked down the street to meet some other friends. As we continued to walk, we walked right into our first protest. From chanting to performance art, the creativity was following all around us. The signs stood out, catching the attention of any eye. The chants were bouncing off the walls of buildings, some of which have seen a number of protests in recent days.
As President Trump finished his speech, we moved to another protest that blocked an entry towards the Parade. It was peaceful, civil chanting until a couple of Trump Supporters arrived and tried to break the link. Feeling defeated, they left and moved a street over to enter the Parade.
We kept moving, looking to capture as much as we could from today. At first, we kept on the streets and moved with the protest, but we thought about actually see the parade. We fell in line early and went through security, then made our way down to the parade. It wasn't until we had gotten inside we found out that there had been some damage done down on 12th, so we quickly turned around and went straight there. As we got closer, we could see riot police blocking the way, so we wouldn't be able to make it through.
That wouldn't be the only time we would come across them. We went down the street and ended up falling back in front of them. Many of the protesters who had been there had come and gone. They continued to stand there as more photographers and reporters poured in. As I stood back and watched, I saw many of the same faces from the other protest. Even Vermin Supreme was there. He moved quickly through the area as people began noticing him, only to be turned around by the police.
13th and Massachusetts turned into a gridlock. Cars were blocked by protesters (myself included) sitting in the street. Different groups sat in the road in different circles chanting. After some time, people started to move again to find a new place to "cause trouble". My friends and I stood around a little bit longer before heading back in the direction we came from.
We followed a crowd that began to grow at the intersection. Everything seemed calm until the crowd started to run. Confused, but wanting to know what was going on, I ran. I moved to the front, blocked again by police covered in riot gear, to see that a car was on fire. Later, we would find out that someone or a group people had set a limo on fire. It was hard to breathe with the smell of leather and chemicals being emitted into the air. I walked back out to only find that someone had spray-painted a message for all to see: "We the people".
As we walked down to through an alley, I separated from my group again as I made my way through the crowd. At the front, you could see the littered remnants of an altercation between the protesters and riot police. I watched as numerous news station came up to film the scene outside of the Washington Post.
I was tired and hungry, and we made a pitstop and meet with the others in our group. We made our way back to the park to see the concert. We only stayed a little longer, walking down to the White House.
These protests will continue through the next 4 years, and I can't wait to see what comes of it. Looking back on the day, I've never been more proud to be an American.
Stand Up. Fight Back.