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“When I left there Wednesday, I was real happy and proud of our team,” said Kevin Grooms, who works in the Paint Shop. The white paint on the inaugural stands was completely finished, and they had made it through nearly three-quarters of the blue detail work. “We worked until probably twelve o’clock Wednesday. And the blue paint that was on the deck was actually still wet.”

“We came back on Thursday morning, and I mean, it was completely destroyed,” he said. “It was just totally demolished. The blue wet paint, they tracked it all over.”

There was also trash and debris covering the stands. “Besides the stands having a lot of debris on them, there was a lot of broken glass. And there was a significant amount of residue from the tear gas. It was very difficult cleaning up that area,” said Serock, who noted that the US Capitol Police provided important guidance on how to safely handle these items.

“It was a real mess, it was unbelievable. You just can’t imagine,” said Grooms. “We’re still in shock over it.” But his team worked through the weekend, “When I left there Sunday afternoon, that deck looked like it did Wednesday. Now, it’s pretty much down to touch-ups.”

via the staff of the Architect of the Capitol

Early yesterday morning, a knot of curious spectators stood on a corner of Connecticut Avenue, craning their necks over a procession of black SUVs and police cars to try to catch a glimpse of Biden. I asked one of the DC reporters standing there if she knew the best path through the cordon of checkpoints surrounding downtown. She glanced down at my unadorned neck and then said, in the manner that you would speak to the Official Rube Correspondent of the Hicksville Gazette, ​“Um, I think you need a credential to get down there.”

Because I try to avoid wearing press credentials out of both a philosophical belief that the experience of a journalist should mirror that of the general public and the fact that I often work at publications not considered fancy enough to be approved for press credentials, I was determined to navigate DC as any other citizen. It was true that you needed a credential to get anywhere close to the Capitol or even the National Mall, where you might be able to see or hear the actual ceremony. The series of scary-looking metal fences and concrete barriers that began all the way up at K Street, though, could be passed through, although the United States government did not seem to want anyone to be aware of that fact.

At every opening in the security fence, there stood a line of soldiers, with M‑16s, surrounded by a motley assortment of Secret Service and metro cops and FBI agents and Park Police. Concrete slabs were erected to funnel you down this imposing gauntlet of the security state. There was not a single sign saying, for example, ​“This Way to Inauguration,” or ​“Entrance Here,” or ​“Public Access,” or anything else. There was only the military checkpoint, the armed men in sunglasses, and the mostly empty streets. Even I, a basic white man, had to gather a fair amount of courage to approach the stone-faced soldier behind the nearest metal fence and ask if there was a way to get through.

“Oh yeah, you can walk right in here,” he said, gesturing to the terrifying prison-esque checkpoint. ​“These are open.”

Hamilton Nolan

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