Sunday morning, people were placing their Women’s March protest signs around a chain barrier at Lafayette Square. Some did so as a sort of make-shift memorial. Online, others slammed the move, calling it trash and littering.
Either way, it didn’t last long. The National Park Service moved in and cleared it out as clean up began and D.C. slowly returned to normal.
Marc Rivera, from Southwest, D.C., passed by the Starbucks that was vandalized on Inauguration Day. By Sunday afternoon, the area and others looked like a ghost town compared to just days and hours before.
“It was a little surreal. It was almost like having a city that was strangely under siege,” said Rivera of the rioting.
Sunday, a much quieter D.C. welcomed its residents and the visitors from the historic weekend. A group of students from North Carolina got the chance to tour some of the places that were closed off to the public on Friday and Saturday.
“It was a very positive experience for us. We really enjoyed the inauguration in the process and created some memories, good memories,” said Mike Jarman, a teacher who came with his North Carolina students to see the inauguration.
Those in town to see President Trump’s inauguration also witnessed protests and the waves of pink that packed into the National Mall on Saturday for the Women’s March. A reported half a million people showed up.
“They want to get something done: write a good letter, get a bunch of signatures on it. Send it to your senator, send it to your congressman,” said Reggie Ash of the demonstrators. “That’s not going to get a cotton-pickin’ thing done, I don’t think.”
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“I think it will because people got excited, people felt a power that they hadn’t felt in a while,” countered Laura Messerschmitt. She flew in from California to participate in the Women’s March. “So they’re going to go home, and they’re going to make calls to their Congress, and they’re going to call their senator and I think, that’s how things change.”
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Whether they were here to support the president or to protest, the National Park Service said most people were respectful.
“Our crews reported that while the trash was overflowing, the trash was at the cans,” said NPS Spokesman Mike Litterest. “The people, you know, participants and visitors to the Mall had been very respectful of trying to keep it clean.”
The white decking used this year also helped keep the Mall in order. Litterest said crews put down it down to protect the lawn, which was part of the $40 billion renovation the National Mall just underwent.
As crews removed the decking, Litterest was happy to see some of the grass was still green.
Other elements from inauguration weekend, like grandstands and the media risers, could take weeks to break down. The NPS is hoping to have it all cleared away by March 1.