Unable to approach the Capitol, strangers huddle near phones to see Biden, Harris
By Rebecca Tan, Michael E. Miller, Meagan Flynn and Julie Zauzmer
Barred from the Mall by security checkpoints and abandoned by friends who canceled trips because of the mob attack on the Capitol, small groups of strangers smattered around the city created their own miniature inauguration crowds, gathering around cellphones to watch President Biden and Vice President Harris assume office.
Hundreds gathered on New Jersey Avenue south of the Capitol, unable to see anything in person besides a view of the Capitol building, but nonetheless blaring music and cheering as the live-streamed speeches.
Daisha Manning, 27, turned on her phone just before noon. As she watched Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor introduce Harris, her aunt and friend huddled around. Another group joined them, and then another, and soon, about 10 people huddled around Manning’s bright pink iPhone.
“Oh my God, I’m going to cry,” Manning said, tilting her head up. Her friend Raycene Nealy, 51, dabbed at her eyes, smudged black with eyeliner. Nealy’s brown cloth mask was wet with tears.
As Harris was sworn into office, the group of strangers let out a cheer and put their fists in the air. “The glass ceiling!” one woman yelled. “Woo woo!” another shouted.
Jason Sheffield and Kiersten Dawley — two Trump supporters from near Harrisburg, Pa. — had stood on the Capitol lawn on Jan. 6. They said they wanted the best for the country under President Biden. “We have to hope for the best,” said Dawley, 22, wearing a red Make America Great Again hoodie.
More than a dozen blocks away, Pacey Bowens, 49, had flown to D.C. from northwest Arkansas with her 14-year-old son, Andrew, hoping he could experience the energy she felt when attending Barack Obama’s inauguration 12 years ago. But they felt dejected, unable to get close enough to even glimpse the White House’s famous columns.
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