Where are all the supporters? Sparse turnout for Donald Trump's inauguration video

Crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies to swear in US President Donald Trump at 12.01pm (left) and President ...
LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

Crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies to swear in US President Donald Trump at 12.01pm (left) and President Barack Obama in 2009.

The bitter divisions that Donald Trump has exposed in the United States were evident on every street corner of Washington, DC, where supporters cheering the dawn of a promising new era mixed with protesters expressing alarm and defiance.

Crowd numbers were way down on previous years for the inauguration of the first president in recent memory to arrive in the White House with a net negative approval rating, and one who lost the popular vote by around 3 million votes.

On the vast National Mall, large swathes of grass lay empty.

Crowd estimates are not yet available but the Washington Metro service said that as of 11am, there had been only 193,000 trips, compared to 513,000 for Barack Obama's first inauguration and 317,000 for his second.

READ MORE:
* Live: Donald Trump becomes US president
* Live: Trump takes office amid protests
* US President Donald Trump sworn in

 


Outside the perimeter of the viewing area around the Capitol building and National Mall, groups of protesters assembled early and began marching the downtown streets.

AFP

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Most were peaceful, but at least one group turned destructive – smashing glass and damaging property.

DC Metropolitan Police said the cohort was armed with crowbars and hammers, and that 95 people had been arrested.

But the protests, lower turnout and the drizzly, cool weather didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of Trump fans there to soak up a piece of history.

Donald Trump and his wife Melania wave to crowd after he was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Donald Trump and his wife Melania wave to crowd after he was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Whitney Ruiz and her teenage son Zac watched Donald Trump's inaugural address from the National Mall, wearing Trump buttons, plastic ponchos and smiles.

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"I thought that was powerful," Ruiz, who travelled from San Angelo, Texas, said afterwards. She said she thought he would be a strong president, and "hoped he would be a godly man, and listen".

"I like the things he says he's going to do - border security, military strength - I think Supreme Court nominations that will come through this presidency will be very important."

Trump supporters rejoice as he is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Despite the presence of protesters all over DC, Ruiz believed it would be possible for much of the division in the country to ease during Trump's term.

"I hope that if conditions in the country continue to improve under his administration, it will calm tempers and make amends."

The earlier section of Trump's address, with its dark references to "this American carnage", did not seem to stir the crowd. But the new President's emphatic pledge to always put "America first" drew a loud cheer, and the pledge to fight "radical Islamic terrorism" produced an enthusiastic roar.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in the National Mall.
SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in the National Mall.

Mark, who declined to give his surname and said he was a Gulf War veteran, said Trump's win was a victory for all "the old school red-blooded Americans, who don't allow diversity to happen, don't obey globalists and believe everybody has the right to be sovereign".

The crowd on the Mall was dotted with protesters making silent statements - holding banners with messages like "Putin's Puppet" and "Keep Your Baby Hands Off My Rights".

Tom Nason, 26, stood patiently in line for hours alongside Trump supporters with his "Dump Trump" sign waiting to enter the National Mall before proceedings began. He said he wasn't at all nervous about being an outsider in the crowd, and was more fearful of the police than the crowd.

US President Donald Trump is seen taking the oath on a video monitor in the National Mall during his inauguration.
SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

US President Donald Trump is seen taking the oath on a video monitor in the National Mall during his inauguration.

He said there would be a strong resistance to Trump. "It has to start now and not let up," he said.

Evan Matheson, 25, stood with a group of friends, wearing a Make America Great Again cap and a blue blazer adorned with white stars. While Matheson said he wasn't a fan of Trump's during the primary, he said that when it came down to a choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton - "who is obviously a criminal" - the choice was clear.

"For a lot of people it will have meant a lot to them, a lot of people do feel left behind," he said of Trump's address.

Vendors made the most of the opportunity to hawk Trump merchandise on every street corner: Trump hats, flags, badges and teddy bears.

One vendor, who said this was his third inauguration, said the woolly beanies and plastic ponchos were his biggest sellers.

Asked how this compared to Obama's first inauguration, he wore a look that seemed to say "are you serious?".

"There's maybe a quarter the number of the people today compared to Obama," he said.

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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