Tunnels of Gloom

The only negative from today's festivities: Washington, D.C. was woefully unequipped to handle the million people who turned out for the inauguration. Even the 240,000 with tickets.

The horror stories are all over. There's even a Facebook group, Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom's Wall.

A few stories: [More...]

We stood back-to-chest, shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of others in a mob ---- there was no line, only a mob. In 5 hours standing in "line," we did not see one person in authority: no police, no volunteers, no security on the ground (only security atop buildings above our heads). No one provided information of any kind. There was zero crowd control, and no signs beyond the giant Purple gate itself. this was a dangerous situation, and it was only the positive spirit and good nature of most crowd members that prevented a dangerous riot or trampling.

Shame. What an utter failure, an embarrassment, a colossal screw-up. We left not only disappointed, but also infuriated at such a prominent display of incompetence.

Here's Gregg Levine. And Marcy.

Another story:

Shame on the police chief for boasting that every ticket holder got in. Thousands of us were crushed in a mob, stuck with no information and locked gates around 1st and C NW, right behind the Jones Day law firm office. Shame on the "organizers" for failing to organize anything at the Purple gate. Our tickets were rendered meaningless, and we never even came close to getting in.

A news accounts here and here. A NOLA blogger here.

Even an Obama staffer couldn't get in:

I'm an Obama staff member who survived the madness, and I didn't get in either. My friend and I left the line because we were afraid for our safety - the crowd started surging and actually picked me up off my feet and moved me. We were up by the gate - people were yelling ' watch out, there's a baby ahead, don't push' and the crowd wasn't listening. It was a dangerous, chaotic situation.

Such a disaster. My friend flew out from California to enjoy this event with me and we spent every hour from 7AM in a crush of bodies.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Honestly, what did they expect? (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 10:52:14 PM EST
    I can think of venues with much more predictable traffic that have trouble with things like this.

    It's time to break out one of my favorite JFK quotes:

    "Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm."

    And yes, I lived there for the better part of 4 years.

    The Parade was engineered for clsterf*ck (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:11:11 AM EST
    The Mall, not so much.

    Heck (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:41:25 PM EST
    those kind of stories should be the norm. Last night it was stated gates would close (ticket or no ticket) when capacity was reached.

    In Miami I went to hear Obama speak, stood in line at an outdoor park for 90 minutes and have yet to figure out where the stage was much less see him and that was nothing more than a stump speech.

    Given the option, I would have still rather been in DC today. The atmosphere looked electric, especially the view from the Capitol steps looking back over the sea of humanity towards the Mall.

    A million, at least, is down a lot (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:53:17 AM EST
    from the much-extolled and expected numbers of three to four million, then reduced to two million earlier today . . . and now, it turns out that even a million could not be accommodated safely.  

    Thank heavens that, said stories in recent weeks, the rest decided that the restrictions -- not being able to bring in supplies, go to restrooms, etc. -- were good reason to stay home, or it would have been worse.  But it is worrisome that, according to comments at the link, there were calls in the tunnel for medics . . . with none coming forward.  I hope there were no serious injuries, but it sounds like there must have been some.

    Everyone wants to be (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:19:11 AM EST
    where history is being made. They can say yes I was there. I remember it well... and who can blame them. I would love to be there too.

    More than anything, I am very pleased that Obama has stopped the military tribunals.

    It is snowing on Yatsugatake. I am here, and just as pleased to be.

    You can't always get what you want (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:01:54 AM EST
    as many thousands learned who went to great expense to get tickets and get to D.C. but were trapped in the tunnels of doom and other screwups.

    But the AP reports this morn that it only happened to a couple of hundred ticketholders -- although that contradicts Wapo's accounts and actual photos from the scene.  AP simply s*cks.


    No Freedom of Speech on Parade (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:00:44 PM EST
    They only had 1 or 2 searches going at a time at the Parade route gate at 10th and E, compared to a dozen or so at the 2001 Bush ceremony.

    I'm thinking there was a deliberate decision to limit admissions to prevent any visible off-message messages.

    After 4 + hours, I finally reached the checkpoint.

    The US Park Service officer told me I could not bring my "STOP .GOV SPYING" banner inside. I reminded him that the Secret Service website stated that banners up to 20 feet x 3 feet were allowed, and mine was only 19 feet by 2 feet 9 inches. He replied "It doesn't say you can bring it through THIS checkpoint.

    I could dump it in the trashbin, leave, or he'd take it and I'd go to jail.

    Normally, I take the arrest, but I had no retrievable witnesses, and it would have been too easy to claim I'd been excluded because of otherwise disorderly conduct. I took the 2nd option.

    Sorry Ben (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:05:54 PM EST
    I was looking forward to a more favorable report from you. If you'r staying in town, you should report to the White House tomorrow morning with the sign.

    Might, If I can recruit help, (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:09:44 AM EST
    and depending what comes back on my attempts to make appointments on the hill.

    I'm sure you have a plan (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:18:16 AM EST
    You're my favorite trouble maker.

    on the plus side: (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 06:10:47 AM EST
    nobody got killed (that i'm aware of), no ak-47's were being fired in the air in celebration, no riots in the streets. it was all very civilized.

    honestly, i knew this was going to be a huge magilla back on the evening of nov. 4th, and resolved to stay as far away from DC as possible yesterday.

    for the most part, the people who were there appeared to be enjoying the event.