Local Donald Trump supporters who made the 2,000-mile trek to Washington, D.C., witnessed both a hopeful populist address from their new president and the unrest caused by his political opponents.
Idaho businessman Ron Nilson’s day began at 4 a.m. Pacific with a quick breakfast and Uber ride to the National Mall, he said by phone. His route did not take him by many protesters, he said, though he saw a few signs bearing the slogan “Not my president.”
Nilson liked what he heard from the newly inaugurated president.
“I think he hit a home run here,” Nilson said.
Nilson appreciated Trump’s language, saying it spoke directly to the disaffected Americans who put him in office.
“I think, all the people, the highly educated people, said man, he talks so simple,” Nilson said. “He spoke to the American people today.”
Observers, including national media and other visitors from the Inland Northwest, saw firsthand protesting that flared up after Trump left Capitol Hill for the White House.
A group of 10 Whitworth University students attended the inauguration as part of a monthlong course on journalism and society. While walking back to their hostel at 12th and K streets, Emily Gooddell and Casey McClure found themselves in the middle of a clash between protesters and police.
“It was mostly just people walking with signs, chanting and stuff,” said McClure, a 20-year-old history and education student.
The National Mall was mostly filled with Trump supporters, the students said, while protesters mingled on surrounding streets. Both McClure and Gooddell, also 20 and a journalism major, said it appeared the two groups were about “evenly split” on Friday.
“It could be that the protesters’ numbers are less, and it’s just the fact that it’s so overwhelming that it seems like more,” Gooddell said. “But definitely, from our perspective, it seems about equal.”
The students said the protests near them had died down as of Friday around 1 p.m., but they expected more to spark up during a planned march Saturday.
Siblings Monika and Adam Wachowiak, native New Yorkers who’ve moved to Spokane, said by phone they were wandering down cordoned-off city blocks Friday afternoon, some of which were occupied by Trump supporters, others filled with protesters, some of them with handkerchiefs covering their faces.
“We’ve seen people yelling here or there,” said Monika Wachowiak. “No one is actually yelling at each other, thankfully. People are just being smart.”
As the two were talking on the phone, they came upon a Starbucks and Bank of America whose windows had been smashed by protesters. Workers were already replacing the glass, they said.
“It’s not what I was expecting,” Adam Wachowiak said. “You have protesters and Trump supporters just intermingling. Everybody’s just woven together.”
Mayor, prosecutor attend ceremony
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell traveled to the capital for the ceremony, as did Spokane Mayor David Condon, his office confirmed.
Monika Wachowiak took a photo of Condon with her brother during celebrations Thursday night.
Condon, a former deputy chief of staff for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been attending a winter meeting for the U.S. Conference of Mayors this week, according to his spokesman, Brian Coddington. Coddington confirmed the mayor planned to attend the ceremony Friday.
The conference, which concluded Thursday, included Vice President Mike Pence as a speaker. Mayors Ed Murray of Seattle, Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma and Cheryl Selby of Olympia were also slated to attend the conference, according to organizers.
“I was humbled to witness the time-honored tradition of swearing in our nation’s president. The peaceful transfer of power among U.S. presidents is fundamental to our country’s democracy. It was truly a privilege to be an observer of history,” Condon said in a statement.
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