Others were frustrated in trying to reach their destination. Cheryl Tate, 52, of Flint, Mich., and her friend Karen Pugh, 43, gave up hope of reaching the Mall after trying to walk from RFK Stadium, in southeast Washington, where their bus parked. They ultimately found a free shuttle back to the stadium, where they waited for their group in anticipation of a long drive to Michigan.
“We didn't see anything, unfortunately,” Tate said.
A smattering of protest groups occupied spots along the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, but the demonstrations largely were directed at long-running national and international concerns rather than at policies specific to the Obama administration.
A few dozen protesters with the ANSWER Coalition, a peace and social justice coalition, gathered at Freedom Plaza near the White House to honor the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and call for jobs, not war. Brian Becker, director of the anti-war coalition, said the group focused on messages that would resonate with a pro-Obama crowd. In addition to a poster focusing on King's legacy and jobs, protesters had signs saying “Indict Bush Now” and “Drone Strikes (equals) War Crimes.”
The U.S. Capitol Police arrested three people, including a demonstrator who refused to come down from a tree and was shouting and chanting, said spokesman Shennell Antrobus.
John Diamond of Arlington, Va., handed out flyers inviting people to a “disinauguration ball” as people exited the inauguration ceremony. The flyers, which said “Not my president,” invited people to an event later Monday in Virginia. Diamond, who didn't vote in this election, said he wants to encourage peace and opposes the drone attacks the president has authorized.
“We're just out here celebrating freedom and trying to get people to think about the fact that we don't need violence to control people or dictate the behaviors of other people and we should start looking for alternatives,” Diamond said.
Another activist, Malachy Kilbride, said that while he and other protesters with the Arc of Justice Coalition were pleased Obama had broken the race barrier by winning the presidency, “that does not negate the fact that we are very upset with issues like the bailout of the banks, corporate influence in government, big money in politics.”