VIDEO: Scenes from Inauguration Weekend

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Justin Risley


When I planned to go to Washington D.C. for the inauguration and protests, I didn’t plan on filming anything. I talked with some friends about potential projects for my time in the Capital, but I never had a definite idea of what I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to make something that was as objective as possible and I was having a very hard time figuring out how I would do that. The only reason I brought a camera was for photographs to share with my family and friends when I got back.

On January 19, at around 9:30 p.m., I had just finished viewing the Capital Building and was on my way to an area of D.C. where an Uber could pick me up, since all roads surrounding the heart of D.C. were shut down. I was on the phone with my mother when I saw the first protests. “Mom, there’s a fire in the middle of the road. I got to go, I’ll call you later.” This is what I told my mom before taking out my camera and filming everything I saw for the remainder of the three-day trip.

I felt obligated to make a film that was short in length, but dense in content. I wanted to share with everyone the events I saw in the most truthful way I knew how. I just kept filming everything I saw. Just as before, there was no plan. I would worry about the structure and organization later. I knew the second I focused on anything that wasn’t right in front of me, would be the moment I missed the shot.

Inauguration day was nothing like I ever would have expected. As a supporter for neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, I felt like a lost spectator in a crowd of Trump supporters. Being from New England, I was never surrounded by a crowd of this size and political attitude. The events following the inauguration that very day introduced me to the harsh reality that currently exists in our country. It was a toxic environment. Hate from supporters and non-supporters was everywhere. Radical protesters that I have only seen on television and in civics class were right in front of me. Eventually, the somber environment took a large toll on me emotionally. Everything I was seeing felt repetitive and I had had enough. I had a few hours of film so I decided to head out in preparation for the Women’s March the next day.

Although I do not feel as strongly toward some of the political views expressed at the march on January 21, I can honestly say it was one of the most positive environments I have ever been in. The number of people was a magnificent sight to see. I was shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people who were smiling, cheering and singing. I climbed on a stack on wood pallets to get a better shot of what I was seeing. I saw women and men of all ages marching down the National Mall that had a completely different vibe just 24 hours before. I was slightly worried I would be unable to document just how positive of an environment this was.

I felt I did my very best in portraying the events I witnessed in D.C. during those three days. It was a challenge narrowing down hours of footage into something that was only six minutes. It forced me to locate the parts of my perspective that I felt were most significant. I consider this film to be vivid depiction of the events from my experience.\

Justin Risley can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @justinrisley_. More of Justin’s videos can be found on his channel and on Instagram @justinrisley_