Monday Aug 8, 2022
Monday Aug 8, 2022

Americans who live, work near capitols see peace, new hope

2021 Jan 21, 11:56, kathmandu

More than most people, these Americans will have front-row seats on whether the change of leadership Wednesday in the White House will lead to a lessening of tension that has been afflicting the nation. They’ll be watching what the next chapter brings from storefronts and the porches and stoops of their own homes.

Their sense of foreboding was lightened, just a little, by Wednesday’s inauguration. As President Joe Biden was sworn into office, demonstrations at state capitols were scant, with only a few protesters showing up, and in some cities, none at all.

Some expect Biden’s focus on unity — a word he used eight times in his inaugural address — will have an effect, but they say how the people react will be key.

Jonathan Jones’ front-row seat to what happens next is his restaurant that is decorated with Black Lives Matter signs and art near the Oregon State Capitol. Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails has been vandalized by a white supremacist. One day, police showed up as Jones, who is Black, and his friends were being accosted by neo-fascist Proud Boys. The police at first confronted Jones’ group as if they were the threat.

“There’s not a person who stood with me that day who didn’t think that they might die,” Jones said. “And the most awful part was not knowing if it was going to come from the police or from the Proud Boys.”

Jones watched Biden’s inauguration on TV, and in the afterglow called it “a beautiful moment.”

“It was fantastic to see the president of the United States denounce and repudiate white supremacy multiple times and to acknowledge that we’re long overdue as a country to actually achieve some form of racial justice,” Jones said. “My hope is that things are dealt with quickly, but my expectation is that it will take quite some time to see any actual change.”

Brian Henderson, minister of First Baptist Church of Denver that sits across an avenue from the shuttered Colorado Capitol, was so close to the upheavals of 2020 that he was struck in the left knee with a pepper ball. Henderson had been handing out water from the front steps of his small brick church as thousands battled police during riots over George Floyd’s killing.

Many neighboring businesses and state government buildings have boarded up their windows and doors in anticipation of possible violence but the church has not, to avoid giving the wrong message.

“We can’t let fear stop us from doing what we have to do,” Henderson said.

Henderson watched the inaugural with church staff and then stepped outside to reflect and bask in the historic moment.

“There was this strong breeze. The sun was warm. The sky was blue. The air felt fresh. It’s a new day. We have a new president,” Henderson said.

In Washington state, a neighborhood next to the Capitol in Olympia boasts mid-century and 100-year-old homes. On normal days, the tranquil scene is one that Norman Rockwell could have depicted in idyllic portraits of American life, residents say.


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