By Hazel Trice Edney
President-elect Donald Trump is set to take the presidential oath of office Friday, Jan. 20, amidst protests and even boycotts of the inauguration ceremony. A spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee says the events will be a grand celebration, nevertheless.
“The inauguration itself is a celebration for the country…It’s about a celebration of our Democracy and a peaceful transfer of powers,” said Presidential Inaugural Committee spokesman, Alex Stroman, in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire.
“We are excited about the people who are participating,” he said, noting that President Trump’s inaugural address will help calm the discord.
“This president is going to give uplifting and unifying remarks,” Stroman said. “I think you will see from this president someone who is going to bring this country together.”
Stroman’s comments came in response to questions about a tweet sent by Trump after civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) announced that he would boycott the inauguration.
“I don’t see the President-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” said Lewis in an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd. He announced that he will not be attending the inauguration for that reason. More than 50 democrats have since joined Lewis in his boycott, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Lewis’ words set off a fire storm of tweets from Trump including one in which Trump said Lewis’ Georgia district is in “horrible shape and falling apart…All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”
Trump’s firing back at Lewis, one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders of the 1960s, then drew ire from the civil rights community. Some expressed their disdain during the “We Shall Not Be Moved” march led by the Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday, Jan. 14. More than 2,000 showed up in the rain for the demonstration intended to send a message to Trump that any attacks on voting rights and civil rights will be unacceptable.
National civil right leaders, including Sharpton, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, had long planned the march. But it appears that Trump’s comments about Lewis added fuel.
NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks tweeted Saturday morning that in “disrespecting” Lewis, Trump “dishonored Lewis’ sacrifice & demeaned Americans & the rights, he nearly died 4.” Brooks called for Trump to apologize.
At the rally, Brooks said, “It is cold and it is rainy and there are some who believe that we are frozen in apathy. But, I want to remind our opponents that our hearts are warm with courage, warm with conviction, warm with conscience, warm with determination, warm with resolve, warm with the prophetic Spirit. We’re not giving up! We’re not giving over! We’re going to stand and stand and stand for our rights!
Reuters has reported that “Washington police and the U.S. Secret Service plan to have some 3,000 extra officers and an additional 5,000 National Guard troops on hand for security” during the inauguration ceremony, largely due to the number of protests that have been planned on the same day. The biggest protest however, is the Women’s March on Washington set for Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. More than 200,000 people are expected.
President Obama has remained consistent in assuring America’s tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power”.
Trump’s vitriolic style of campaigning was marked by insults toward his rivals and often entire groups of people including the handicapped, women, immigrants, and African-Americans among others.
But, Stroman said, “campaigning itself is actually different from governing.”
Indicating that the Trump administration will leave the campaign conduct in the past, Stroman noted how Trump has expressed “his respect, appreciation and admiration” for how President Obama has handled the transition…That speaks for itself.”
Nevertheless, Trump has continued to send angry tweets in response to criticism toward him, including that from Rep. Lewis.
A Lewis spokeswoman, Brenda Jones, said the Congressman will make no further public comments about his inauguration boycott. “He’s very clear.”
Meanwhile, civil rights leaders have doubled down in their intent to let Trump know they will not tolerate conservative attacks on civil rights. “We will march until hell freezes over, and when it does, we will march on the ice,” said NAACP’s Brooks, who was arrested last week for trespassing during a sit in he led in the Alabama office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general.
Acknowledging the protests, Stroman said there will always be disagreements in politics, but he hopes Trump’s supporters and non-supporters will be fair.
He concluded, “Not every person voted for the President, but every person should give the person a chance.”