Peaceful but enthusiastic crowds celebrate Biden’s win in downtown D.C.

By Macyn Field

Crowds gather to celebrate Joe Biden’s win at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC. Photo by Macyn Field

When we first heard the news, my roommate and I knew we needed to put on our red, white, and blue and follow the masses of people walking towards the White House. After four days of tension and constant news coverage, Pennsylvania was blue and with that announcement came the announcement that Joe Biden would be the next President of the United States.

My parents had not wanted me to stay in Washington, D.C for the election, and we knew plenty of people our age had gone home. Our friends who went to George Washington University had received emails from the school warning them to stock up on supplies and prepare as if there was a hurricane in case rioting got so bad that they were stuck in their apartments.

But my roommate and I decided to stay in the city for the monumental election.
The week began with an eerie quiet that settled over the city as stores boarded up their windows with plywood. My roommate and I dealt with the general stress of our nation the way most 20-year-old college students would – by making constant jokes about our impending doom.

On Monday we decided to go on a “Doomsday Walk” to the White House and the National Mall. We took in the boarded-up windows, the protests, the highly elevated police presence, and the “unscalable” wall that surrounded the White House. The Black Lives Matter Plaza was busy with protesters urging people to vote Donald Trump out of office.

“Look,” my roommate said on Tuesday. She reached into her closet and pulled out a pair of socks with conviction. “These are my socks that say Pennsylvania is blue, and I am not taking them off until Pennsylvania goes blue.”

We are both from Chester County Pennsylvania and were proud to say that our vote was important because our state was a swing state. So naturally, once she found a second pair of blue Pennsylvania socks, she made me promise to also keep them on until our state turned blue.

Four days later, on Saturday morning we woke up and were getting ready for another day of uncertainty when the Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania went to Joe Biden which gave him 20 more electoral college votes, making him the next president elect.
It took a second to sink in and then we both decided to follow the crowds of people taking to the streets.

Our apartment is two blocks from the White House so, within five minutes of walking, we came to large hordes of people celebrating. Cars were driving down the streets honking their horns and cheering as crowds of pedestrians cheered back to the cars. A makeshift parade was thrown together as people leaned out their car windows waving flags and blaring “FDT” on their radios.

After a week of fearing how people would respond to the election results, we were happily surprised by the completely jovial celebration that was happening in the streets of D.C, and even more pleasantly surprised by how, despite the crowds, people were continuing to wear masks.

The streets next to the White House were blocked off by police barricades so only pedestrians could continue to celebrate. Again, an impromptu parade was thrown together as people walked down the Black Lives Matter Plaza with signs announcing, “Immigrants for Biden” and “Veterans for Biden.”

Someone in the crowd began a chant, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!” The general feeling in the city was relief and celebration rather than the aggression and retaliation that the city had prepared for.

The crowds were incredibly diverse. There were old people setting up folding chairs to sit and watch the celebrations, there were families with children in strollers, there were adults walking dogs and there were teenagers and young adults in groups of friends.

Even more miraculous was the way the tension of the week had completely vanished. I saw a large truck that had been converted into a parade float promoting the Black Lives Matter movement.

I watched as a police officer approached the truck and spoke to the man speaking on the float.

I do not know what the officer said to the protestor, but the protester said into the microphone, “Thank you. You know, you’re gonna change my mind about this whole thing” and motioned between his float and the police officer.

The Secret Service and police presence that had seemed so threatening earlier in the week were helping the crowds to celebrate safely.

In the hours we walked around the White House and the Mall, we did not see any clashes between Trump supporters and Biden supporters and for that day it really seemed that the city was united in celebration. I knew it might not last, and I knew the results would be debated and questioned, but I decided to enjoy the positivity of the moment.

The year 2020 was a challenging year across the globe, but after the experience I had in D.C on that day, I have hope for a better 2021.

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