For Those Who Got Screwed At The Inauguration

DSC_1230, originally uploaded by rossleetabak.

Thanks to a reader for sending. It seems from reading about your experiences that here’s a good way to voice your frustrations over the inauguration ticket fiasco.

Sen. Feinstein Calls for Ticket Investigation and Asks Participants for Information.

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, today issued the following statement in response to reports of incidents which prevented a large number of ticketholders from reaching their designated areas at the 56th Presidential Inaugural Ceremony:

Following is Senator Feinstein’s statement:  Continues after the jump.

“I have just spoken with Mark Sullivan, Director of the Secret Service, and I have asked him to convene along with the U.S. Capitol Police, all law enforcement and other parties involved in planning for this Inaugural to conduct a prompt investigation into two serious incidents that have been reported. These reports have prompted great concern by members of the Inaugural Committee, including Senator Bob Bennett, and by Congress in general.

The specific incidents include the report that a decision was made to cut off access to Purple and Blue standing areas, which meant that a large number of ticketholders could not reach their designated areas.

I am also aware of the incident involving the 3rd Street Tunnel, where thousands of people were stuck for several hours and apparently without any law enforcement presence.

There may have also been other irregularities, but I have heard enough to know that something went wrong and we need to find out what happened. Mr. Sullivan has indicated that he will provide a full report.

I would encourage people who have direct information about these incidents to contact the Secret Service, in addition to contacting the Joint Congressional Committee for Inaugural Ceremonies at [email protected]

22 Comment

  • is the thinking that these areas filled up because of counterfit tickets? or was there still room but the gates just werent opened?

  • I have heard a lot of various horror stories around the office from people who were turned away with valid tickets to the Inauguration ceremony because they were ate the wrong gate, or got stuck in the wrong line, or couldn’t find the gates at all. However, there were also some lucky miracles that occured on inauguration as well. My roommates and I were walking home when we were approached by a White House staffer with extra parade tickets; the wait was long, the weather was bitterly cold, but the experience of sitting a stones throw from the White House and a few feet from our incoming president is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

  • ok, it sucks that people with tickets got screwed. it really does. however, doesn’t congress have bigger issues at hand? let’s see…investigation on inaugural ticket issues or oversight of tarp. hmmmm.

  • a stones throw? i think ‘a shoes throw’ might have worked better there 🙂 not that anyone would throw a shoe at obama…and not that anyone should have thrown a shoe at bush. just saying!

  • Actually, I think it’s very important that security personnel determine what went wrong. It was only the good nature of the crowd that prevented tragedy in the complete absence of crowd control and direction. In fact, the only law enforcement I saw were snipers on building tops and police cars and ambulances driving THROUGH extremely dense masses of people with sirens blaring. The presence of law enforcement only increased the chances that someone in the crowd was going to get injured.

    If we had been lined up to, say, buy a DVD player on sale, someone would have been killed and congress would be calling for heads to roll among the event planners and executors. Said individuals are very, very lucky that we stayed calm and kept our spirits high (that is, until they slammed the gate in our faces). They owe us their jobs.

  • My inaugural experience was great – I was out there at 5am as one of the red-hatted volunteers charged with keeping people happy and safe despite the cold-as-hell weather. I gave away a silver ticket to do it, too.

    But the rest of my day was rough. I had four coveted parade tickets, but we were turned away by a surly Baltimore cop who said the whole area was closed to spectators.

    Finally, I somehow scored tickets to the Youth Ball. I should have chosen another ball, because the Youth Ball was a disaster: they sold 7500 tickets for 3500 seats. we were stuck in a low-ceilinged holding area with small TVs outside the ballroom. my friends had flown from CA for the event and my girlfriend was crushed that she spent $400 of her low government salary on a ballgown (she looked beautiful, though). It’s a night to remember for all the wrong reasons: we were crushed and felt totally abused by the PIC.

  • I wrote a blog post about my experience because I couldn’t believe how many basic common sense aspects of managing that large a crowd were overlooked. We were SO lucky that nobody got trampled or suffocated or that there was no emergency evacuation necessary.

  • I heard that there was a generator problem that kept them from being able to check bags, so they cut off entry.

  • To all of the people who didnt make it to the ticketed area.;

    STOP COMPLAINING! You knew there was 2 million people coming to DC.
    You should have left earlier. If you did you would have time to go another way.

  • Anon @ 1:20-

    We DID get there very early. In fact I spoke with a man and his family who had purple tickets and were in line by 4:30AM, right near the front, and still could not get in because they shut the gates down.

    Please refrain from ranting and scolding when you know not what you write about.

  • 1. I didn’t think there were alternate ways to get into a ticketed area, actually.

    2. They only opened the parade route at 7, right? I was ticketless, but even if I had left my house earlier than I did, I wouldn’t have been able to get in any earlier.

    3….and if no one is there to open the gates for you after you’re directed to go to a specific place because you have a specific ticket, it doesn’t really matter how early you leave, does it? You can be there at 4 a.m. at a closed gate, or 7 a.m. at a closed gate — the gate is still closed.

    There’s nothing that can be done for the folks who were totally screwed by this. But the complaints can help the authorities plan better for the next time, because it’s not like security is all of a sudden going to get *looser* with these types of events.

  • What can and should be done is hold, in a month or so, a special event for ticketed folks who were denied entry featuring Barack himself as the speaker. Even 30 minutes of Barack’s time would mean the world to those folks …

  • i was in the blue ticketed area and got in without a problem – was there around 6:30am. when we got in, there was soo much space for a while after the inauguration events started. then partway through a lot of people began streaming in from who knows where. not sure if they were ticketed or not, but when they finally made it, they were hugging and kissing. it felt like people had just broken out of jail and were happy to be free and in the presence of obama.

  • I want a west wing tour. they’re hard to get unless you know someone same as the coveted purple tickets. I would stop bitching if i got that or a speech somewhere by Obama. Wont get back the once in a life time opportunity i missed but its something

  • Huge amounts of incompetence in the *ticketed* area, which should have been the best-managed due to proximity to the President.

    The two worst examples:

    – Silver ticketed area was flooded with *unscreened* spectators when the crowd simply surged through a barricade.

    – The Purple ticketed area, despite Chief Gainer’s lame excuse that it was “at capacity”, is clearly shown to be very sparsely populated in the 11:19 am satellite photo published in the Post. Either Chief Gainer is lying, or worse yet, his people who made the decision were completely unaware of what the many observers in helicopters, platforms, etc could plainly see.

    This inauguration was fatality-free through sheer luck. Crowd control was abysmal, and consisted mainly of *creating* dangerous crush-inducing chokepoints, rather than preventing them. Many people went to the ticketless section of the Mall assuming they couldn’t bring chairs and backpacks (due to misinformation of the official inaugural site, and lack of any straight answers anywhere else), and thus made themselves much more vulnerable to hypothermia. Emergency vehicle clear-lanes through the crowd were not established. And I could just go on and on.

    This inauguration was a triumph of a well-behaved crowd over the incompetence of our overly-militarized police agencies; all of our police agencies are too focused on getting their cool-looking military-style gear and keeping *themselves* out of any harm, and have totally lost their focus on “protecting and serving” the public.

    [Excepted from my diatribe is that one Houston transit cop who jumped onto the metro tracks to save the lady who fell in front of a train. Kudos to him.]

  • I agree with CB, it’s a miracle no one was seriously injured or killed. Given that there was NO security screening at all at the part of the mall near the Washington Monument, why did they have the whole freaking area walled off? The dangerous part was when the whole crows was pushed against jersey barriers and chain fences trying to get out, and people had to stop and climb over barriers. If there had been more ways to get on or off that part of the mall, it would have made it a whole lot safer.

  • Why did there need to be security screening at the monument?

  • Just looking at that picture makes me feel ill. It’s almost as if I can feel the walls closing in on me.

  • This is all Obama’s fault…

  • As someone who works at one of the Federal agencies managing this, I can safely say that there was poor coordination between Congress (Stuff at the Capital was their party), City, Federal agencies, and the Obama’s group. The fact that a major intersection of humanity like Washington and C Streets, SW had zero event staff directing three different groups (orange tix, Siver Tix, and no Tix) coming from threedifferent directions (RFK, South Cap, Points West) was just Stupid. Worse was the company of Iowa National Guardsmen keeping the streets of Shaw safe from the massive crowds up there (joking about the crowd, serious about the troops). that company could have easily been deployed to merge the groups on the mall for better crowd movement. I would encourage to fax Senator Feinstein a letter describing your experience and request a calm and reasoned after action review whose focus is not to assign blame but to make improvements for the future. Email will not work as she only responds to CA mailing addresses. Speak up or they idiots will do it again. The Senator’s fax number is 202-228-3954.

  • You people sound so “entitled”.

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