We Want Our City Back: What It’s Like for D.C. Residents

By Jordan Sugick 

Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON,D.C.– As Inauguration is steadily approaching, I reflect on the past few weeks and how much living in Washington, D.C., has changed.

In the days before the insurrection in the United States Capitol, I prepared for what seemed like another day. I wasn’t going anywhere near the Capitol so I thought I was safe. When groups of people come to D.C. for marches, rallies, etc., I try to stay out of the way. That usually means staying at home, not riding the metro, and not going downtown for any reason at all. 

Days like those, the streets are blocked off, there are more police officers on duty, and residents are usually advised to stay in their homes. None of that happened the day of the insurrection.

On Jan. 6, 2021, many people went on like it was a regular day. I had an aunt go to work (her job is 10 minutes from the Capitol), I had another aunt ride the metro (with people who participated in the insurrection and not wearing masks). 

We knew what was going on but none of us thought it would escalate like it did. I saw videos of people storming government buildings that regular Washingtonians can’t get into on a normal day. It angered me to see the damage that was caused to the city, my city.

When people think of D.C., they only think of it as the nation’s capital, a place full of government buildings. But that isn’t the entire picture. It’s a place where thousands of people live and work. It is a place filled with neighborhoods surrounding the capitol. This place that many call home has now become a place where you’re scared to come out of your home. You have no idea what is going to happen when you walk out.

In a conference Wednesday Jan. 13, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced updated safety precautions for D.C. and days leading to the inauguration.

In the upcoming days, the nation’s capital will become a fortress, as Good Morning America said. Downtown D.C. has shut down; streets have been closed, barricades, check-points, and fences have been put up and more than 25,000 armed members of the National Guard on duty. 

No one is allowed on the national mall. You cannot go from one side of the street to another without being questioned. There are police officers everywhere. Four bridges that connect D.C. to Virginia have also been shut down. 

“As long as I have lived in D.C., it has never been this bad,” said  64-year-old Washington native Doris Ellerbe. 

Many Washingtonians hope that these safety measures will not last long as they prohibit normal day-to-day life. Bowser has declared a public emergency order that is to last through Inauguration Day, giving her the ability to call a curfew for the city at any time. Bowser has also advised D.C. residents to stay home during the inauguration. 

“It’s for everyone’s benefit to stay home and celebrate inauguration virtually in light of the unprecedented attack on American democracy last week and ongoing threat to our country as outlined by the FBI,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination D.C., to CNN.

Many are concerned about more violent acts and demonstrations coming to the city. Bowser asked the Trump administration to cancel permits for public gathering between Jan. 10 and 24. 

“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January 6,” Bowser said to CNN. 

These safety measures have become the new norm for living in D.C.

Jordan Sugick is an advertising and communication major at FDU Metro and a proud Washington, D.C., resident.
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A view down Pennsylvania Avenue shows the security around the Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo taken by Susan Walsh.