For Trump supporters, a great moment

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, arriving for the inauguration ceremony of Mr Trump yesterday. The West Front of the US Capitol in Washington filling up with guests prior to the swearing-
The West Front of the US Capitol in Washington filling up with guests prior to the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Trump as the 45th US President yesterday. Thousands flocked to the capital city to witness the inauguration.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, arriving for the inauguration ceremony of Mr Trump yesterday. The West Front of the US Capitol in Washington filling up with guests prior to the swearing-
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, arriving for the inauguration ceremony of Mr Trump yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

900,000 people from across the country pack inauguration venue amid tight security

WASHINGTON • Thousands flooded into the US capital yesterday to witness Mr Donald Trump's inauguration, amid tight security.

The US Secret Service, Washington police and other law enforcement agencies deployed 28,000 officers to secure the event, which saw intermittent light rain.

An estimated 900,000 people packed the grassy National Mall facing the Capitol, where Mr Trump was sworn in, as well as the parade route and other parts of central Washington.

Many were sporting shirts and baseball caps bearing the President's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.

"I have been waiting for this for a long time," said Mr Thomas Mendenhall, 68, a retired banker from Missouri. "We just want change."

Mr Carl Beams, 36, from New Jersey, stood in line with thousands of people waiting to enter the National Mall. "This is a great moment in history. I wanted to be able to say I was here first hand," said Mr Beams, who runs a martial arts school.

Other Trump supporters came from across the country to join the festivities.

Mr John Stephan, a 62-year-old retired banker, said he travelled from California on Tuesday to attend the concerts and the ceremony.

Calling himself a Trump supporter since "day one", he said he and his wife felt that after attending rallies and watching the televised debates, it would have been wrong to be at home.

"We thought: You know what? Let's end this story and go to the inauguration," he said.

Ms Vasi Gaua and her husband also travelled from California for the inauguration, after snagging tickets through their congressman.

"I was always a big fan" of Mr Trump, she said. "I like how he is forward with people, tells it like it is."

Trump memorabilia were on sale all over the place: flags, baseball hats, scarves, and vuvuzela horns to trumpet the businessman's arrival to power.

Mr Trump comes into office with 40 per cent of Americans saying that they have a favourable impression of him, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll published on Tuesday.

The figure is sharply lower than for any incoming US president in recent history, underscoring the deep divisions among Americans.

 

Liberal activists protesting against his inauguration scuffled with police in Washington yesterday after attempting to block Trump supporters streaming in for the ceremony.

Protesters organised by a group called Disrupt J20 linked arms at one of the dozen security checkpoints leading to the largest public viewing area, and several were led away by police in riot helmets and body armour.

Organiser Alli McCracken, 28, said Disrupt J20 hoped to shut down the checkpoint as a sign of its displeasure over Mr Trump's controversial comments about women, illegal immigrants and Muslims.

On Thursday night, hundreds of protesters clashed with law enforcement outside the National Press Club, where a thousand Trump supporters had gathered for an event called "DeploraBall".

Several prominent members of "alt-right" white nationalist movement reportedly organised the event. In the street, demonstrators waved signs, chanted, shouted obscenities and set fires. Several times, officers directed a chemical spray into the crowd.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'For Trump supporters, a great moment'. Print Edition | Subscribe