The Inauguration of Donald Trump Will Likely Be the Most Protested, Chaotic, and Violent in History
“I think people today are willing to do things they may not have been willing to do in the past.” – Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy
On January 20, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The ceremony is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m., with a musical prelude beforehand. Afterward, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to participate in the traditional inaugural parade, which begins at 3 p.m.
On paper, the event sounds elegant and festive, but in reality, it will likely be anything but.
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told WTOP that the threat environment for this inauguration and the campaign that led up to it is “different” from previous ones:
“I think people today are willing to do things they may not have been willing to do in the past,” Clancy said.
He cited several episodes that took place during the campaign, “where people jumped over those bike racks or security zones into our buffer. In the past, it was very rare for somebody to do that. Today, in this past campaign, people were willing to do it.”
Those kinds of incidents are the least of their worries, though: lone wolves and terrorist organizations pose a much bigger threat. FBI officials have confirmed that DC is mentioned on a daily basis as a potential target in intercepted terrorist chatter and communications, reports WTOP.
On Friday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told reporters about preparations for the inauguration:
“We know of no specific credible threat directed toward the inauguration,” he said. But in the same statement, he acknowledged, “that is only part of the story.”
Clancy said that the other parts of the story include the unknown, and that’s what concerns him.
“Every night I wake up and I wonder do we have some issue covered,” Clancy said.
Planners estimate that at least 800,000 will be in attendance.
Of the hundreds of thousands who will attend, the number that will be protesting in opposition to Trump is not known.
Johnson said, “We know of 99 different organizations that intend to demonstrate in one form or another at the inauguration.”
NBC News reports that permits for some events have been issued:
The National Park Service has provided 22 permits for First Amendment events that will take place over inauguration week on park service land that includes the National Mall and the White House. Each protest ranges in size from 50 people to 200,000, however, any protest less than 25 people does not require a permit.
“The permit applications we received this year are a considerable uptick,” Mike Litterst, public affairs officer of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said, adding that they typically have only provided about a half dozen for past inaugurations.
Christopher Geldart, the director of the D.C. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said that 3,200 police officers from across the country will be on the parade route to provide security.
The Women’s March on Washington is planned for the day after the inauguration, and is expected to be the event that draws the largest crowd: the organization requested a permit for 200,000 demonstrators, and it is possible many more will show up to participate. It is being reported that three times more bus permits have been requested for that protest than for the inauguration itself.
Inaugural Historian Jim Bendat, author of Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013, told NBC:
“It’s quite noteworthy. If they get those kinds of numbers, it will far exceed any previous inaugural protest.”
While some protesters just want to be heard, others have more disruptive plans in mind.
DisruptJ20 is one of them. A group of local DC activists that started organizing six months ago in preparation of the inauguration, their aim is to use direct intervention to interrupt the inaugural process:
“We would like the headline the next day to be Donald Trump inaugurated amid complete chaos, not Donald Trump, inaugurated amid applause,” said Legba Carrefour, who is an organizer with #DisruptJ20.
“The idea is to shut down access to the parade as much as possible and slowing it down to a crawl. Then there’s the broader goal of shutting down the entire city around it and creating a sense of paralysis that creates a headline that says, ‘Trump’s inauguration creates chaos,'” Carrefour said.
DisruptJ20 should expect to be met with resistance, because Bikers for Trump will also be in attendance. The group has a permit for 5,000 individuals, and their president Chris Cox has said, “In the event we are needed, we certainly will form a wall of meat. We’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and toe-to-toe with anyone.”