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Monday, 19 January 2009

Junto @ The Inaugural

The Big Squeeze:
The Cavalry to the Rescue

By Justin T. Carreño
Junto Staff Writer

I attended the inaugural concert on the Mall yesterday in front of the Lincoln Memorial. When I realized it would be impossible to find my friends, I decided to get as close as possible the scene of action and entertainment. Being tenacious, I got there relatively early and worked my way through the crowd and up to the Memorial. I achieved my goal.

However, I soon realized that the tens of thousands of people had the same thing in mind. What was at first exciting became quickly a frenetic event. As more people entered, the crowd was becoming compressed. It became critical when there was literally no room to move. Drunks and mindless idiots were pushing, and others were scared they were going to get trampled and crushed.

There were others climbing trees to escape, while others climbed on top of the port-a-potties. I immediately became aware of the danger. The biggest threat to the people were themselves. If there was sudden panic people would surely die, being crushed and trampled by others.

Children were crying. Adults had the look of fear in there faces. Claustrophobia had struck, and rightfully so. Movement was impossible. The safest area was along the line of port-a-potties. I stayed close to them. I realized people were so pressed up against them that others were trapped inside. I had to do something.

I pulled out my cell and called 911. They put me in touch with the Park Police. I explained the situation -- that facing Lincoln on either side of the pool people were being crushed and they had to dispatch police. Then I slowly and methodically worked my out. As I was making my way, I was yelling at people to chill and not push and, to those climbing on the port-a-potties, I scolded that they shouldn't probably do that. I developed a group of followers who were yelling the same and followed my lead.

Soon mounted Park Police arrived to break up the crowd and get it under control. I made it back to the WWII Memorial where there was an clearing where virutally no people were standing because there wasn't a good view of the video screens, where I watched the event in peace -- and with plenty of egress routes.

(Editor's Note: Another reason for a mounted police force!)