Whether cheers or jeers, emotions run wild and deep

Supporters during Mr Trump's inauguration in Washington, DC, on Friday. Millions of Americans were eager to embrace a Washington outsider willing to say, or tweet, whatever is on his mind.
Supporters during Mr Trump's inauguration in Washington, DC, on Friday. Millions of Americans were eager to embrace a Washington outsider willing to say, or tweet, whatever is on his mind.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • The inauguration of Mr Donald Trump capped a campaign that galvanised millions of Americans who were eager to embrace a Washington outsider willing to say, or tweet, whatever is on his mind.

Legions of his supporters were on hand to embrace their new President. Ms Kathy Aulson, 55, an emergency room nurse and attorney from Texas, said she made plans last October to come to Mr Trump's inauguration. "I knew who was going to win," she said.

"There was no way we weren't coming," her husband, Patrick, 65, said. They stood on the west lawn of the Capitol Building looking for a good spot to see Mr Trump, who had never held elective office before. "It's history," she said. "It's a non-politician, a businessman. I like that he's not bought. I like he funded his own campaign. I like he's not politically correct. I like everything about him."

Ms Tammy Hodges from Louisiana leaned against the barrier on Pennsylvania Avenue, cold even in her three shirts, two pairs of pants and poncho. Ms Hodges and her similarly shivering friend Cindy Young waited for hours to see their teenage daughters take part in the inaugural parade.

Ms Hodges said their town of 50,000 people raised US$185,000 (S$263,000) to pay for the trip after the West Monroe High School Raiders band and colour guard were invited to perform. Otherwise, many of the 200 band members could not have afforded the trip. "Those children would never have the opportunity to leave our small town to see these things."

Mr John Westlake, 57, a retired Army first sergeant and member of Bikers for Trump, also stood in the spitting rain along the parade route with his daughter, Jessica Westlake, 26. She has joined the Marine Corps and is waiting to leave for basic training. Her father said his concern for his daughter's safety attracted him to the billionaire businessman, who has pledged to strengthen America's armed forces.

But Mr Trump's inflammatory rhetoric has angered and offended millions of other Americans, making him the most unpopular incoming President in at least four decades. Thousands of his detractors trekked to Washington to make their voices heard.

Not far from where Mr Trump was inaugurated, anarchists armed with crowbars and hammers marched through the city's streets, toppling over news boxes, smashing bus-stop glass, vandalising businesses, spray-painting buildings and, in one case, bashing in the windows of a black limousine.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Whether cheers or jeers, emotions run wild and deep'. Print Edition | Subscribe