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Fear, tension permeates inauguration

By SHSJC Student Amarah Ennis, written for JAC 310, Prof. Lynn Waltz

CHESTERFIELD, Va. — The Biden-Harris inauguration struck worry into the hearts of millions of families across America that had witnessed the Capitol insurrection just two weeks earlier.

“Well, no one’s been sniped yet,” said nine-year-old Arryn Ennis, as she and her family watched Joe Biden come to the podium to become sworn-in.

Earlier in the day, a squadron of police drove Joe Biden and Kamala Harris past some of the 25,000 National Guard members in D.C. Behind them loomed the 12-foot fence that surrounds the Capitol.

Wednesday was the first time in history that the National Mall shut down for an inauguration. Instead of cheering crowds, it was filled with nearly 200,000 flags representing states and territories. PBS described the scene as “symbolic of a nation at war with an invisible enemy, and with itself,” referring to both the Coronavirus and the unease that lingered after the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Like Ennis, college student Melanie Kee was sure that someone was going to be hurt during the inauguration ceremony.

“I felt like some of Trump’s supporters would be, and still are, willing to lay down their lives to make sure Trump remains president,” she said.

In the days leading up to the inauguration, rumors of future attacks on individual state capitals circulated throughout TikTok, Twitter, and the now-defunct Parler. However, the quick response of the National Guard and the wide condemnation of the Capitol riots may have persuaded extremists not to risk it.

Indeed, security was at an all-time high, according to officials. The Secret Service created mapped zones to monitor all vehicles around the mall, sweeping them for explosives and weapons. Security officers from all over the country assisted in the massive operation.

The added security solidified the opinions of those who did not believe the rioters would make another appearance.

“I don’t think they would’ve had enough time to get anything together,” said Afrikka Ennis, Arryn Ennis’ mother. “Especially not after the National Guard started pouring into D.C..”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was escorted by Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Policeman caught on tape diverting rioters from entering the Senate chambers. His appearance as an honored guest at the inauguration was another reminder of the Capitol’s desecration just over two weeks ago.

Biden’s first speech as president called for unity in the face of white supremacy and political division. In appreciating his call for healing, Kee still worries that violence from right-wing extremists is a definite possibility in the coming days and months.

“I’m scared of what they may do to avenge Trump’s name,” she said.