A Big Weekend, Well-Handled
By March 2, 2017 0 740•
This past weekend, Washington, D.C., hosted both the 58th Presidential Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington. With hundreds of thousands of attendees at the two events, I want to thank the thousands of hardworking Metropolitan Police Department officers, D.C. government employees, Metro workers and volunteers from other police departments and elsewhere who helped these major events run smoothly.
The plans for the inauguration were months in the making, with Mayor Bowser, MPD Interim Chief Peter Newsham and D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Chris Geldart working with the Secret Service, the FBI and other federal agencies to ensure a safe and successful event. There were some protests in parts of the city during the day. While they were mostly peaceful, there were a few in the crowds who turned to violence and were arrested. For the most part, however, the city remained safe.
The Women’s March on Washington brought an unbelievable number of people to the National Mall and the surrounding area. The crowd was so large that the march route was almost totally filled in with people standing for the rally beforehand. As a result, people ended up marching from the rally stage at 3rd Street SW and Independence Avenue to the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the White House, all around the Mall. Despite the larger than expected crowd (reports put it somewhere between 500,000 and a million), all remained safe and peaceful.
I was able to attend both the inauguration ceremony and the Women’s March. I joined Mayor Bowser to observe the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to President Trump, as well as to thank President and Mrs. Obama for their service to our country.
Not only was I able to join the hundreds of thousands of peaceful marchers on Saturday, but my colleague Mary Cheh and I opened the John A. Wilson Building — D.C.’s city hall — as a meeting place and warming space for marchers.
Metro’s performance over the weekend, which was nothing short of excellent, deserves special mention. The plan for Inauguration Day had been developed well in advance. Metro coordinated with federal and local law enforcement agencies and the Presidential Inauguration Committee to ensure everything went smoothly.
However, there wasn’t the same kind of advance planning by Metro for the Women’s March. Hundreds of people reached out to Metro (and to me) about the expected crowds, and Metro responded to their concerns. General Manager Paul Wiedefeld quickly came up with a plan to provide extra service, opening the system early at 5 a.m. and adding trains. It’s a good thing we did, as Saturday was the second busiest day in the history of the system, with 1,001,613 trips. (The busiest day was Jan. 20, 2009, for President Obama’s first inauguration.)
There were definitely huge crowds at Metro stations on Saturday, which led to some delays, but riders seemed to be in good spirits, respectful and patient while they waited. This went along with the mood of the march itself, which, as far as I know, did not result in any arrests or acts of violence.
**Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.**