Getting on the DC Metro with the intention to get to L’Enfant, I realized I wasn't going to have much choice on what to photograph today—they had shut down multiple stations inside of Washington DC due to dangerous overcrowding. The shuttle we were in was barely able to deboard at the Chinatown exit. I don’t know how many people in the metro cars with us knew just what was going on outside. Numbers would arrive later that night of crowds above 1 million. A few of those in the car with us had clearly traveled to DC to support the new president and display their own views. I wondered, while we departed the station like sardines and pressing up the escalators as the crowds roared down to us, whether they too realized that a plan was not something that would work out today.
The crowds above were traveling south toward a portion of the mall. Starting at Chinatown, the main arteries in the city were already so thick with people that vehicle travel was impossible.
We somehow angled ourselves to arrive right at the Trump Tower, just before the Women’s March swelled in. We’d later find out that the Women’s March cancelled their plans as so many people had shown up. As the crowd swelled in, it was clear why: this march was filled with every kind of protester: anti-capitalism, Black Lives Matter, feminist, and plenty of general anti-Trump. There was a lot of real anger.
Last night, checking out at a grocery store, the clerk and I had talked about how surreal it felt to consider Donald Trump as the most powerful man in the world. As the curse goes, “I hope you live in interesting times.”
After snapping through the crowd, we began to follow them as they marched toward the White House. The crowd was so massive at this point that they started to take different directions and streets, cycling in and out of every pore with their individual messages.
Seeding their way through us, flanked by a large police escort, was a TRUMP mobile. Protesters surrounded and followed wherever it went. We saw at least one fight nearly break out. Both parties were trying their best to aggravate each other.
Still, some of us raised our hands in a gesture of peace. We didn’t follow the mobile for long, and I couldn’t give you a full, unbiased story of the interactions between Trump supporters and the enormous crowds of protesters. I don’t think it would be wrong to say that while there are many antagonists, many of us are still trying to understand each other, or at least, be a decent human being.
We turned away from the mobile after about 20 minutes, and found another artery of supporters pushing through the streets. Some of the crowd who had just arrived looked down at the roar of sirens following the TRUMP mobile. They asked us what it was, so we told them. ‘Well,’ they said, ‘I hope nobody gets hurt. We think we’ll stay out of it.’
Back with the march, a lot of the messages contained anger, and I don’t think that every person there agreed with each other—I think if this was all a discussion on the internet, or controlled by the media, that it would focus on what our disagreements were, what arguments we would give to each other, and how none of us actually belong to the same group.
I do think those disagreements are important, and I think the internet is important for us to reach beyond the individuals we meet every day to encounter ideas that are outside out of our communities.
But being there, actually being there with so many people, it was something else. I think we all emotionally understood that we needed each other. We needed to know that we will show up for each other, that whether we might choose to distinguish our ideas, we will not distinguish who we love. A beautiful energy swam through the masses, a feeling contributed by everyone there, young and old, disabled, downtrodden and just plain upset. We cheered for each other, we hugged and supported each other.
Yesterday we left to march out of anger, or for our ideals, but I think the most beautiful thing to happen was just finding each other there.