Members of the Arc of Justice Coalition protest outside the inaugural ceremonies. (Flickr/Elvert Barnes)
Updated 10:12 am
During MSNBC’s day-long marathon coverage of President Obama’s second inauguration, in which exciting details such as the first lady’s bangs and outfits were discussed, host Rachel Maddow at one point remarked that no protest permits had been requested.
The statement was significant for a couple reasons. One, it created the impression that President Obama was re-elected with unified glee. Why, no one even bothered to request a permit to protest! Because Obama is perfect! No one could even think of a reason to raise any grievances!
Second, the statement simply isn’t true. Five groups secured permits to protest. In fact, here’s a NBC affiliate interviewing a spokeswoman about those very permits:
“They have to apply for a permit and give us what time they are going to be here, what they’re going to do and about how many people they have, but as I said, we accommodate them,” National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said. “It’s their right to be here.”
Three of the five protest groups gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue. Protesters included members from the spectacularly insane group The Westboro Baptist Church, but also the ANSWER coalition, which speaks out for the unemployed and demands jobs and justice.
“The least among us, as Dr. King would say, to agitate, educate and mobilize from the bottom, to have those voices for those who are still struggling, those who Dr. King would be standing for,” said Eugene Puryear, of ANSWER.
The ANSWER coalition will gather at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House, but the protest is bigger than Obama, ANSWER said.
“It’s to send a message to all politicians, not just the president but the senators, the congressmen, all the big business people that these are the problems, the problems of ordinary working people, that we need to be tackling,” Puryear said.
Reform America Created Equal also applied for a permit to hold an anti-choice demonstration at the US Naval Memorial, while about 100 people from the Elaine Wooten Organization demonstrated about environmental issues and complexities of Native American treaty obligations. Another 100 or so protesters from the Arc of Justice Coalition rallied with speeches and music for the First Amendment at Meridian Hill.
Another protest—perhaps one of the other “smaller” protests that was issued a permit, as The Washington Times had it—took place outside an exit gate from the inauguration day festivities. A group of protesters lay across a street on Capitol Hill to protest Obama’s controversial use of drone strikes abroad.