Law Weekly reporters Ravan Austin and Amy Hendel contributed the majority of the content of this article.
The Presidential inauguration is a multi-day slate of events that will affect the lives of everyone living in the District of Columbia. Although Georgetown Law’s campus is closed on Inauguration Day itself, Friday the 20th, events and accompanying traffic restrictions will begin as early as Wednesday and will last through the weekend. The Law Weekly has prepared this guide to help Georgetown Law students get through the weekend, whether they are attending the inauguration, attending alternative events, or just staying in the city.
DC DURING THE INAUGURATION
It is impossible to say how big the Trump inauguration will be – so far, enthusiasm seems to be less than anticipated, but hundreds of thousands are expected for post-inauguration protests and rallies. Much of the downtown corridor of Washington will be shut down before, during and after the inauguration events, increasing commute headaches across the region regardless of the true number of visitors.
According to inauguration.dc.gov (and corroborated by an e-mail from Dean of Students Mitch Bailin), street closures will begin to affect Georgetown Law and the District as early as Wednesday. The map above (again courtesy of Dean Bailin) shows the zones that will be subject to traffic restriction during Inauguration events. The “red zone” is closed to all traffic from noon on Wednesday the 18th to Monday the 23rd at 1:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. The “green zone” is subject to restrictions from 7:00 a.m. Thursday the 19th until 1:00 a.m. on Saturday the 21st, meaning vehicle traffic is restricted to residents and businesses in the zone. The National Guard will maintain checkpoints on the perimeter of the green zone and will check for photo ID or “a reasonable verbal justification” for their travel.
Georgetown Law’s campus and many of the surrounding streets are subject to the “green zone” vehicle restrictions on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the campus gates around the library will be closed, and students must enter campus from the southern entrances, according to Dean Bailin. Other road closures that may affect Georgetown Law students as well, including full street closures around Union Station from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. Thursday (remember, Georgetown Law is open on Thursday) and closures in an area around Washington Convention Center from 10 a.m. to midnight on Friday.
While many Georgetown Law students do not drive, the increased traffic congestion on other forms of transit, increased police and National Guard presence, and the influx of tourists is sure to impact commute times and routes outside of scheduled closures.
An exhaustive guide to road closures, including an interactive map, is available here, via WTOP.
Other Transit Impacts
The DC Metro opens early on Friday morning, at 4 a.m. and will offer rush-hour service until 9 p.m. Five stations near the National Mall will be closed – Pentagon, Smithsonian, Archives, Mt. Vernon Square, and Federal Triangle. goDCgo recommends that anyone using the DC Metro to attend the inauguration or other related activities use the following stations instead – Capitol South, Eastern Market, NoMa-Gallaudet U (New York Ave.), Judiciary Square, Gallery Pl.- Chinatown, Federal Center SW, or L’Enfant Plaza. Riders can obtain Inauguration Day Metrorail updates by texting POTUS to 90360, or downloading a number of apps such as Metroalerts, DC Rider, or DC Metro Transit.
WMATA buses will be running a Saturday schedule, and many routes will be subject to delays and detours. Check wmata.com for information on your route, and be sure to add in extra travel time. The DC Circulator’s National Mall route is canceled from Thursday through Saturday, and other routes (Georgetown-Union Station, DuPont Circle-Rosslyn-Georgetown, Union Station-Navy Yard) are canceled only for Friday.
The DC Streetcar will have extended hours on Friday, opening at 4 a.m., and operating until 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. It will then return to its normal Saturday schedule.
Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps cannot be accessed inside the green zone, which includes Georgetown Law, due to a geofence that will cover the secured area. Users will need to exit the perimeter before being able to request a ride. These restrictions will limit available routes, so ride-sharing travel time may be longer than normal even outside of the green zone.
Capital Bikeshare stations within the security perimeter will be shut down beginning at 12 p.m. on January 18. They will remain unavailable for use until 12 p.m. on January 21. Capital Bikeshare will also be providing Corral Service on January 20 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at two locations: 17th St. and K St. NW, and 12th St. and Independence Ave. SW. Corral Service guarantees an open bike dock to all who need to drop off a Capital Bikeshare bike. Those riding their own bikes may take advantage of free bike parking available on 16th and I Street NW.
The President will be sworn in at 12 p.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol. The Vice President will be sworn in immediately after, followed by the inaugural address from the new President. Access to the mall will open at 6 a.m. A full schedule of events is available here.
Because of the heightened level of security being provided by the U.S. Secret Service, Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police and other local and federal agencies, it is recommended that everyone carry a photo ID on them at all times.
Those without tickets wishing to watch the inauguration may go to the Non-Ticketed Mall Standing Area, starting at 4th St. NW and extending west for the length of the National Mall. This area is within the secured perimeter.
Security should resemble the airport experience, and the following items are prohibited: aerosols; alcohol; ammunition; animals other than service animals; backpacks; roller bags; suitcases; bags larger than 12”x14”x5”; balloons; balls; banners; signs; placards; bicycles; chairs (other than ADA); coolers; drones; explosives of any kind; glass, thermal, and metal containers; knives, blades, or other sharp objects; laser lights and laser pointers; mace and/or pepper spray; noisemakers such as air horns, whistles, drums, etc.; packages; selfie sticks; strollers; tripods; umbrellas; and other items up to the discretion of security.
After the swearing-in, the inaugural parade will take the new President from the Capitol, up along Pennsylvania Avenue and turning north up 15th St to the White House. There are a dozen specific entry points within a block or so of the route, where security screenings similar to the main inauguration event are expected. Even if you are not attending the parade, the Pennsylvania Ave corridor that it travels along is blocked off, so plan your walking route accordingly.
The Inauguration Experience
From our contributors who have attended previous inaugurations:
- Expect to have little to no personal space. Regardless political views, inauguration is a major event that brings a crowd like no other. While it has yet to be demonstrated that folks will turn out like they did in 2008 and 2012, you can expect to be packed onto the National Mall like sardines.
- You can also expect poor cell phone service due to the number of people on the National Mall. Make sure that your devices are charged in the event of an emergency, but don’t expect to be making too many calls once the Mall has filled up. Have a meeting spot if you’re attending with a crowd, in the event that you are split up.
- Vendors: Make sure to have loose cash in the event that you would like to purchase memorabilia while on the Mall. Most of these vendors will be unsanctioned, but will be much cheaper than official memorabilia.
- Bring snacks! This event will seem never-ending. Make sure you have snacks and water to keep your energy up throughout the morning.
- At the time of publication, The Weather Channel is predicting a 100% chance of rain on Friday, January 20. Be sure to have a poncho, umbrella, or other means to keep you and your belongings nice and dry. The weather will be much warmer than in past years (approx. 50 degrees), so you probably won’t need to bundle up too much. Dress comfortably and anticipate standing for a minimum of 4 hours. Life hack: bring a folding chair so that you can sit down during the less entertaining portions of the ceremony.
- Safety is key. While there will be an increased police presence, inauguration is a pickpocket’s paradise. Try to consolidate all of your belongs into a bag with a zipper, and keep that bag zipped at all times.
For those who are uninterested in attending the inauguration of Donald Trump, there are a number of alternative events, rallies, and protests to experience. Here’s a sampling:
The Women’s March is one of the most discussed inauguration protest events and has garnered significant media attention. No tickets are required, but the event is sure to be packed. It is expected to start at around 10 a.m. on Saturday at Independence Ave. and 3rd St. SW, with a projected end time of 1:15 p.m.
#InagurateTheRestistance is a mass protest sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, set to take place at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW at 7:00 a.m on Inauguration Day. RSVP is available on the event’s website.
#DisruptJ20 is another mass protest (“widespread civil resistance”, according to their website) that is set to take place at 9:00 a.m. on Inauguration Day.
This is just a sampling of the many protests and demonstrations set for Inauguration weekend. Check out The Washington Post’s extensive guide for more events.
All in Service DC is a coordinated fundraising effort among DC bars and restaurants benefitting many organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and many other local progressive organizations. Take a look at All in Service’s website for a list of participating restaurants to patronize, and which organizations benefit.
Bars and restaurants will be holding events of their own. RedRocks H Street will be doing a “farewell” to President Obama. RedRocks will be donating a portion of sales over the inauguration weekend to causes supporting our at-risk DC community. Wicked Bloom is a one of a kind and unique black-owned bar will be having an Anti-Trump dance party on both January 20 and January 21. Wicked Bloom will open at 5 PM and have last call at 3 AM. DJ Oso Fresh will be spinning golden era hip-hop, funk, soul, RnB, reggae, old school gogo and more… With no cover charge either night, you can expect great tunes, drinks and food all night long. Wicked Bloom will also be donating to a DC community organization as well in the spirit of “love trumps hate.” There’s sure to be many other events going on – here’s one compilation of specials. from Washingtonian.
Regardless of your decision to attend the inauguration events, stay at home, attend a protest or simply leave the District, the inauguration activities will affect life in the district late this week and next weekend. With a massive influx of visitors, an extensive National Guard deployment and police presence, street closures, and civil disruptions, the Law Weekly’s final guidance is to have a safe but fulfilling weekend.