By Lora-Marie Bernard
WASHINGTON – Hours before President Donald J. Trump took office Friday morning, thousands of people made the walk to the Mall lined by protesters who at times protested each other.
At the L’Enfant Plaza metro stop, hundreds were in line watching a long line of protesters hoisting 10-foot signs into the air. They proclaimed the need to seek forgiveness from Jesus, resist homosexuality and stop immigration. A sign that read “Christ has a pressure-cooker for Muslims” incensed another protester.
“You are crazy for saying God has a pressure cooker,” screamed Will Menta of Michigan, a protester who walked with the crowd as he handed out election reform materials. ”That is no God I want anything to do with.”
The challenge began a rebuke from the protesters who said he needed to repent for his sins. Menta said after the exchange that he had come to Washington, D.C. to protest the election system and to promote the need for reform.
“This country is unhappy with the choices we had,” he said. “Most American were not happy but these were the only two choices we were given.”
Menta said he wanted to spark a conversation about adding a third party. He advocated for the kinds of reforms made in Maine that pave the way for a more integrated party system.
The line of inauguration watchers walked past the protesters while Menta stopped to talk to them about his reform ideas. As they reached the Federal Aviation Building, they walked on the lawn and jumped over barricades to make their way to the courtyard of the James Forrestal Building, where an organized group of Standing Rock protesters held a It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance rally.
Spokesperson Dallas Goldtooth rallied a small group of onlookers with a reminder that they would fight for the nation’s national resources and the end of pollution. He also advocated to close tax loopholes that allow big business advantages.
Goldtooth said that the stresses of Standing Rock and the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline created post-traumatic stress disorders but that the fight to stop national political influences will not end.
“We are on the frontline of the destitute,” he said. “But we are also on the frontline of solutions.”
After his rally speech, Goldtooth said he hopes the It Takes Roots effort will become a national movement. He anticipates the group will build momentum when it forges a collaboration among Black Lives Matter, Food Justice and other groups.
“What you will see is mobility across the board to make sure they do not do further damage to our communities,” he said. “On critical points, like community projects, we will take action.”
As the crowd moved to Independence Avenue, a calmness filled the air as thousands of people waited patiently to enter the general admission checkpoint into the Mall. Protesters were ignored by many people in line.
Two Long Island teens silently held a six-foot Trump flag while protesters walked past them with signs that sent a death wish to the new president. Each student said they entered a contest at Longwood High School to win a chance to attend the iinauguration. They were two of 40 students chosen.
“I have been supporting him since he first ran,” said Brendan, 17, while Jared, 17, said he threw his support to Trump after initially supporting Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.