TPM Reader JB:
I had a purple ticket to view the swearing in ceremony. I got in the ticket line (the I395 tunnel was the line) at 6:30 this morning and was shut out of the event - over 4.5 hours in line and no dice. In fact, there were no police, barricades, signs, or directions. Think of it - 30,000 plus (and i’d venture over 50,000) standing in a tunnel for 4 hours with no public safety personnel. And then they don’t get in. We are lucky that we aren’t hearing reports of injuries. Truly negligent.
Late Update: More, from TPM Reader AJ:
Just wanted to support reader JB’s description of what happened in that tunnel. It was frightening. 30,000 to 50,000 people may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. I know some reports so far have said hundreds of people were shut out, but it is definitely in the thousands. It seemed like we were caught in a bad science fiction movie—as if this was the moment when the gates would shut and we’d be trapped inside while the aliens began their invasion. The number of people in that tunnel, combined with the lack of any sense of order, was eerie. That was bad enough, but then—quite suddenly—everything frees up and everyone spills onto the streets. There is not a single police officer/volunteer/whoever in sight. Not a single one. The crowd is roaming freely, pushing people forward to try to get ahead (it’s about eleven o’clock at this point, and we’ve been in line for at least four hours) and there’s just no direction, no help. Everyone pushes forward until we reach a gate, and then it’s mass chaos. There’s nowhere to go; we’re trapped. They’re not letting us in, but the crowd is so large and confused that there’s no way out. Eventually people started to leave (thank God) but others started chanting, “Let us in! Let us in!” It would have taken just a little push to turn that crowd into an angry mob. By this point, it’s 11:20 and we’re about to miss the whole thing! We don’t have time to get to the Mall, either. Thankfully I managed to see Obama sworn in at a cafe. I’m trying to be happy about what is truly a great day in American history, but I also can’t help but be completely disturbed by my experience. I want to know what happened there today—I want to know why I was left in a TUNNEL with thousands of people with no supervision whatsoever. I want to know why I had to miss one of the most important and historic days I will ever witness. But thankfully I’m just disappointed and not injured.
Later Update: There’s already a Facebook group set up: “Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom.”
This is a group dedicated to all those with purple, blue or other tickets to the inauguration who braved the early morning cold (and the crowds) only to end up in the proverbial or literal Purple Tunnel of Doom.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.