So we’re up and around and I’m back online. I’ll sort pictures today if I can and get some posted as soon as I do.
But I was to extend the comment I made in my post about the Inauguration, below.
And a huge back of the hand to whoever was responsible for organizing the crowds; there was none and what we had instead were color-coded mobs.
Others picked up this theme, and this morning on Memeorandum, I see posts by Firedoglake,
Abu Muquama Abu Aardvark (sorry!!) (Marc Lynch), Tigerhawk, James Joyner, and others.They all paint the picture of a dangerous lack of crowd control. As our part of the yellow-ticket line was being compressed and asked to make a 270-degree turn while we were shoved body-to-body (literally – fortunately the woman in front of me had a thick coat on so my camera didn’t gouge her back – I had TG’s arm gripped in one hand and couldn’t have moved the camera with the other) I commented aloud that “This is exactly how so many Muslims get trampled to death in the Haj” which earned me a shushing from the one person around me that got my point.
We went through three or four chokepoints like this, and combined with the lack of any crowd control, information or really any planning for the lines at all – the yellow line got merged with part of the purple line at one point and we were all shouting out “yellow!” and “purple!” as a bottom-up means of sorting ourselves.
It’s amazing to me that no one did the simple math of the capacity of each seating area, the optimal width of the line, the length of line necessary, and laid out simple steel barrier rails to define the length of that line. It’s not like there was a shortage of steel pedestrian rail in DC this week.
Bluntly, we should have just waited until they opened the gates and then swarmed into them. My own politeness and rule-following nature (along with twenty thousand others like me in the Yellow line) didn’t just get us to the back of the area, but endangered TG’s and my lives.
The good news was that the crowd was – overall – extremely good natured, and that the attitude everyone showed for the first three hours of the wait was wonderful. I’m positive that at any other kind of event this kind of insanely stupid and dangerous lack of planning, combined with people’s normal aggressiveness would have resulted in dozens of fights.
Look, with all respect, this isn’t rocket science. I’ve been to a Super Bowl, to a Rose Bowl, to Daytona and other places where they move low-six-figures worth of people (note that I’m talking about the elite ticket holders where were between the Reflecting Pool and the Capitol – bot as to the parade, I’ll point out that parades with half a million in attendance happen all the time and while this one is different (need for security, etc.) it’s not that different. By comparison, the organization of crowd control here was criminally incompetent; only through luck is it that no one was injured because of it.
I’ll skip over the unnecessarily hurt feelings of supporters and fans who were treated worse than cattle; what happened yesterday was stupidly, un-necessarily dangerous, and the people responsible need to be replaced.
Now James Joyner points out that the people running the events were incompetent at crowd control because they were only concerned with the safety of the various principals:
Part of the problem is that the people running security are concerned only with the safety of the VIP’s, not whether people are disappointed.
“It was an absolute success,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip D. Morse said of the effort, which involved more than 30,000 law enforcement officers and military personnel from across the country. Although there were numerous complaints about chaotic procedures at security checkpoints, the event went off without serious disruption.
That’s just not true. TG and I received only a cursory search as I went through the checkpoint at the end of the lengthy line; whether because of the ineptitude above or the pressure the (very nice, very calm) Capitol police felt to get people moved through. They made two glaring mistakes with us – one I won’t point out publicly because it was so serious – and wound up waving me through the metal detector with a pair of Steiner binoculars under my arm. Binoculars that contain as much metal as a small handgun. I didn’t realize until I was collecting my cameras that I’d walked through like that.
Now I’ll point out that Rob Leatham with a handgun wouldn’t have been a threat to any of the principals from the front of the area we were in. But if they didn’t intend to keep handguns out, what the hell were they bothering with the searches for at all?
Incompetence, pure, simple and absolute, and a need to make a change at the top.
Fixed embarrassing brain fade confusing Andrew Exum and Marc Lynch.