WASHINGTON — When Audrey Jones first moved to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 22, 1963, she would have never predicted the assasination of President John F. Kennedy that same day.
Jones, who lives three blocks down from the barricaded Capitol Hill, said she has never seen anything like the scenes she witnessed earlier this month when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. According to Jones, when Kennedy was assassinated, the area didn’t have the gridlocked security like it did this week for Inauguration Day.
“My children grew up on Capitol Hill, this is where my first son took his first steps,” Jones said. “I’m distressed that it is no longer available for us.”
National Guard troops held their assault rifles behind 7-foot black fences that stretched all the way around the Capitol building amid security concerns leading up to Jan. 20.
According to local and security officials, an estimate of 20,000 troops were deployed for inauguration week, and most bridges and streets leading into the DC were closed down.
“We have daily briefings with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, and at this time we don’t have any specific or credible threats to buildings or facilities outside of the federal enclave,” Chris Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said during a public briefing on Jan. 19.
The closures surrounding the U.S. Capitol building will be in effect until Jan. 21, including the closure of main bridges such as the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which continue to create traffic jams this week.
“It wasn’t a disorganized mob [that did this],” said Bruce Butterworth, who used to work as a staff member for the House Government Operations Committee on Capitol Hill. “This was a coup, it wasn’t good, not at all.”
On the morning of Inauguration Day, the District only saw sparse crowds, mostly empty streets and shut down businesses. A small celebration, separate from the inauguration, was held near the barricades with the Capitol building visible from a distance.
A sparse number of pro-Biden supporters waved their flags and cheered as some live-streamed the inauguration on their phones.
Despite much anticipated violence, the event remained calm throughout the day, and the minimal crowds began to head home by the evening.
“For me, today symbolizes basically a new beginning in America,” said Cheri Nguyen, who visited from Orange County, California. “Today signifies hope and unity.”