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Purple, Silver, Blue Ticket Holders Turned Away

VIDEO | Raw Video: Ticketed Inauguration-Goers Refused Entry

Update: Many visitors today were turned away before the beginning of the Inaugural events. Even ticket holders had trouble getting into the ceremony. People with purple, silver and blue tickets in particular reported being shut out of their designated locations. Read first-hand accounts of the experience here.

At 1:05 p.m. Capitol Police chief Phillip Morse reversed an earlier comment that all tickets were honored, saying that some did not get in. He said that people with purple tickets were especially inconvenienced.

"We had to cut it off because of overcrowding" he said of the checkpoint. "There was a surge at the end" and they feared people would get hurt.

Despite widespread reports that tickets were not being honored, at 11:50 a.m. Morse said that everyone with a ticket made it through the checkpoints. Morse said an extra checkpoint was opened up last-minute at 3rd street to handle the overflow of purple ticket holders and other ticket holders who faced long lines. Some wound up in an area that wasn't their assigned area, he said.

"There's nobody that didn't get to see the inauguration today who had a ticket," he had said.

But several readers who e-mailed the Post expressed anger at Morse's earlier comments and the disorganization of the day:

3:57 p.m.: My daughter and I spent over two hours on the Metro. When we arrived at the blue ticket entrance the line went around the HHS building. After two hours in line they closed the blue gate and thousands were left out of seeing the inauguration. No big screens. No speakers. Just arrogate guards closing the gate...

1:28 p.m.: I was a purple ticketholder and was denied entry into the Inauguration. Many other purple ticketholders were also denied entry. I got in line at 8:00 a.m. and am furious with Capitol Police.

1:27 p.m.: Police Chief’s view that all with tix got in to see inauguration is not accurate. My wife and I had purple tix, stood in line within a block or so of purple gates for 5 hours, and left after Obama was sworn in.

Incoming Tweets:

12:21 p.m.: Purple ticket holders are being directed to an overflow check-in at 3rd Street and Constitution Avenue.

9:48 a.m.: Stuck in a purple ticket line in a tunnel for over two hours. Is the gate still open?

Incoming SMS Alerts:

10:20 a.m.: No movement at all for people with tix at Silver gate

10:08 a.m.: Silver gate line stretches 11 blocks

As it became clearer that thousands of people stuck outside the security barriers would miss seeing the inauguration and the parade, excitement changed to frustration and anger with security organzers.

"This is crazy," said Tonita Davis, 42, of Dayton, Oh. She and her family arrived downtown at 6 a.m., but left D and 7th around 11:35 a.m. They had tickets, but said those were of no use. "It's quite a disappointment."

Masses of people are waving their silver invitations in the air but the line is moving slowly as of 11:30 a.m. The silver line screening point is near Independence Avenue SW and 3rd Street SW.

Oakland native Marcus Alexis says, "it is irresponsible to issue all of these tickets and not let the people in."

Those holding tickets for the purple section of the Capitol grounds are also having a hard time getting in for the swearing-in.

Jocelyn and Herbert Thomas of Orlando, Fla. got two standing purple tickets, but the two have been in line and First and Louisiana streets for three hours.

"We give up. How many purple tickets did they issue?" Jocelyn Thomas said. "This was impossible."

Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, never made it on the Mall. D.C. Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) made his way into the ticketed rows, but only to spend the morning on a patch of grass because there was no chair.

D.C. documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner, a purple ticket holder, also gave up hope at about 10:15 a.m.

"There's absolutely no way we're all getting in," she said. Her voice quavered and she broke down on the phone, "I was on this (the campaign) for a year and a half, and I'm really upset. I don't want to be in a line when they're praying and when he's being sworn in so I'm going to go try to watch it somewhere."

-- Keith Alexander, Nikita Stewart Miranda Spivack, Hamil Harris and Mary Beth Sheridan

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 20, 2009; 3:22 PM ET  | Category:  Crowds
Previous: The Parade Begins | Next: Excerpts: Bob Kaiser Analyzes Obama Speech

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We had blue tickets and also did not get in. There was no crowd control at all. None. Pathetic.

Posted by: santoboni | January 20, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We're calling this the Purple Gate conspiracy.

Posted by: ChinatownExpress | January 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, I hope the new Administration is able to do a better logistics job than what I am seeing here.

To those that didn't get in, you didn't "pay to play!"

As Wesley Snipes aptly put it, "Money talks and everything else runs the marathon."

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | January 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

It's a shame that everyone didn't get in, but I'd rather have good security than happy ticket holders. We all knew that the crowds would be tough. In the end, does it really matter that much?

I hope that everyone tries to make the best of it, and has a great day afterall!

Posted by: postfan1 | January 20, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Silver ticket, went home before 10 realizing there was no hope. At home, nice and warm now and watched it all on TV! I feel bad for those who aren't from DC and were stranded with no place to go to in order to watch on TV.

Posted by: cib1 | January 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect, Chief Morse is a flat out liar.

Its bad that they mishandled the event so utterly -- its beyond insulting that he would simply deny the reality of that failure.

We got to gate for purple area at 6:45, walked a half hour to get to the back of the line (all the way through the 395 tunnel), made it up to the D street side of the 395 tunnel at 10:50, and finally heard from a volunteer type person (first one we'd seen all morning) at 11:10 that the purple gate was closed. There were thousands and thousands of people behind us still in the tunnel. Epic fail. Epic fail.

Posted by: spud3 | January 20, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Despite widespread reports that tickets are not being honored, at 11:50 a.m. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse said that everyone with a ticket made it through the checkpoints. Morse said an extra checkpoint was opened up last-minute at 3rd street to handle the overflow of purple ticket holders and other ticket holders who faced long lines. Some wound up in an area that wasn't their assigned area, he said.

"There's nobody that didn't get to see the inauguration today who had a ticket," he said.

...welcome to D.C., your nations' capital.

Posted by: dubya19391 | January 20, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

How sad! LOL

Posted by: IHateBeingABlackMan | January 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh, silly people. And here all along you thought that Obama was going to be a man of the people and would be accessable for all. He'll probably hold a party for you at a later date.

Posted by: justhere | January 20, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I read this on a blog and also had it texted to me by a friend, so I think it's true - the Carlyle group has a "Violet Division" that works outside of the public view. Dick Cheney has already worked out a deal to be their CEO once he leaves office. They managed to get a contract to handle inauguration events and worked it out so that they would get paid $125,000 (yes, $125,000) for every little purple ticket they produced...with no oversight, they produced millions and millions of them, netting them a TON of taxpayers dollars (in these economic times!). That's why there's an oversupply of them and we can't get in.

Come on fellow lefties, let's organize and put up posters everywhere and have a demonstration about this and smash some Starbucks windows! We cannot let this happen!

Posted by: Nathant | January 20, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Morse is lying. We are purple ticket holders now watching on TV. We were in line for 3 hours and gave up. People near us had gotten there at 230AM and didn't get in. And, it was not safe -- thankfully the crowd was good natured, but it could have gotten really ugly. This was an abysmal failure and really quite a disappointing stain on what should be a joyous day.

Posted by: glickdaddy | January 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"In the end, does it really matter that much?"

Yes it does because it is symptomatic.

Posted by: dubya19391 | January 20, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The losers didn't get to bask in the Obama ray of hope.

The way DC is run is the way the country is going to be run. Zimbabwe, Nigeria, The Congo, USA, what is the difference anymore?

Posted by: mofomofo | January 20, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes - Mr. Morse is a liar for sure. We had blue tickets and waiting in line until 11:40 and did not get in. On the metro around 12:10, I met 4 other blue ticket holders who also did not get in. I live in Arlington so not that disappointed, but c'mon - what kind of welcome is this for the folks I met on the metro from MI and New Jersey? All the money everyone paid to get down here and all our freezing limbs in the cold. I hope the President addresses this issue or so many ticket holders not getting in.

Posted by: nickvalto | January 20, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm astonished that so many people thought they'd actually be able to get in, even with a ticket.

Posted by: pras40 | January 20, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Chief Morse is not telling the truth. Also, there was no information for purple ticket holders regarding the "overflow" entrance. I am among thousands of purple ticket holders who didn't get to see or hear the ceremony.

Posted by: abra1 | January 20, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I am so sorry to hear that so many people ended up going back home to watch it on TV.

But remember this - we all made history when we voted.

And those of us watching it on TV at work and at home, will make history with the Nielson ratings.

I hope everyone remembered to record it, even though they were going to see it live.

Posted by: TVDIVA | January 20, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I went to the inauguration 4 years ago and had a green ticket, which was the same section as today's purple section. They closed off the line when the motorcades went by, starting some 20 minutes before they actually passed, and no one could enter during that time. I made it in, but I'm sure others didn't make it.

Posted by: FHMetro | January 20, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I guess I feel bad for all of these people who didn't get in, too. But really... people were renting their houses starting the night of the election. Hotels and motels and trains and buses have been sold out, not for weeks but for two months. Why would someone, ticket or not, think that showing up at 7 am would guarantee them a spot on the Mall? I have friends that were leaving their houses at 4 am and they live walking distance away. Folks who didn't get into the inauguration had a perfect opportunity to head over to Pennsylvania Ave and be right in front for the parade. I just hope people don't use this as an excuse to be unhappy about the day. You can only do so much planning for 2 million people.

Posted by: MochaB | January 20, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised attendees didn't expect these kinds of problems due to crowd size. Anyone living in the D.C. area already knew this. It's an impossible logistical task to manage transportation and security checkpoints and crowd safety with two million people. I figured the inauguration is just a formality anyway so why attend – the real history was made on election day, which I made sure I was part of. Don't blame government.
And certainly don't blame Obama, who isn't even running this – Bush was still president this morning (but don't blame him either). It's just an impossible task.

Posted by: webg | January 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

We stood in line in the cold in that tunnel for 4 hours with NO direction from any inauguration organizers. No one moved until people at the front started realizing no one was getting in and gave up. That's when we realized the gates were closed. A barricade was put up so we couldn't even get to it. We spoke to someone who had been in the blue section but had left and wasn't let back in. he said the gate was closed at 6:30am, even though tickets said the gate wasn't supposed to open until 9am. The gates were closed before we even arrived and instead of telling anyone, they crammed us into a tunnel and let us wait for 4 hours.

Posted by: TarHeel85 | January 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The purple line was a disaster. We were cornered in an alley for three hours and never made it anywhere near security. There wasn't a policeman or volunteer in sight; no one controlled the crowd or provided any sort of guidance. It was dangerous and unfortunate. The chief of police is oblivious or a flat out liar.

Thousands of people with purple tickets didn't get in. We also know people with silver tickets that didn't get in.

But at least we met a lot of great, patient people :)

Posted by: shelleydc1 | January 20, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse said that everyone with a ticket made it through the checkpoints." That is a flat out lie. There were hundreds of people with purple tickets unable to get in. There was absolutely no effort by the Cap Police to direct crowds. They were utterly inefficient and ineffective. Such a shame considering the efforts people made to get here.

Posted by: mm148896 | January 20, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

""There's nobody that didn't get to see the inauguration today who had a ticket," he said."

--This is the BIGGEST lie I have ever heard. People, including past campaign staff like me, were trapped in a tunnel for hours, only to find out that the gates were closed. We asked every cop we saw how we can get in and they gave no answer and no solution. The situation became so chaotic and dangerous that the risk of getting trample and a stampede breaking out was real.

An oversight in event planning like this is absolutely ridiculous. I would not have been as upset if it were for the fact that we worked so hard for Pres. Obama...

Posted by: dizzle2008 | January 20, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Disgraceful...no cops knew where to send the purple ticket holders at 11:30AM. After standing in the 395 tunnel for 4 hours, and getting messages from people who showed up for 2 hours later and stormed through the people waiting on line. Get to the gate and people screaming "LET US IN" and waving their purple tickets. At least send ticket holders to the area where you don't need tickets.........come on folks.

Posted by: mkanarick | January 20, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Purple ticket holder here. We did not get in and were only a few feet away when the gates were closed. There were hundreds - if not thousands - waving our tickets in the air. Security was fully aware that there were a large number that didn't get in. The gate appeared to stop processing ticktholders at around 11.

We made the best of the situation by huddling with some strangers around my iPhone, and the day lost none of it's significance. But perhaps the blatant lies from Morse can be addressed at some time in the near future.

Posted by: IanCam | January 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I was in line with hundreds of people at the blue checkpoint. As of noon, there were hundreds who could not make it in. What started out as an orderly line at 7am when I got there turned into a mob scene - with NO direction or control from the capitol police, other law enforcement agencies involved or even any remotely of any authority. Shame on them. When I think of all those people I stood in line with who travelled countless miles to be here today, only to be frustrated by a clueless operation at the gate, it really breaks my heart. Shame.

At least Obama is president and there was so much energy for so much of the morning - people were happy and friendly - until hours of receiving no information and being pushed around took its toll.

Posted by: Eubrontes | January 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I have purple tickets. I waited in line since 4am in the morning, along lines that stretched miles down the Tunnel. At some point there was absolutely NO police patrolling, it was a complete disaster and the line never moved. I am not even sure if the gate at Purple ever opened. None of us got in, we waited until 12 noon and left completely dispirited. I called Secret Service and they said to talk to DC Police. DC Police all said they have no idea why the gates are not open.

This is the worst planned inauguration EVER and I hope someone is held accountable.

Tens of thousands of us all with purple tickets waited like fools for 6-8 hours, with absolutely NO IDEA what is gong on, no one is taking responsiblity or letting us know what is going on.

Completely incompetent.

Posted by: yuangeng | January 20, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

My daughter and sister travelled from Oklahoma, got on the metro at 4 am, arrived only to be directed to some holding area for Silver ticket holders in the opposite direction from the Mall. They never got even within remote distance from their gate. There is no excuse for such incompetence and don't tell me they are luck to have Obama as our president. They deserved better.

Posted by: mikehancock | January 20, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Cheif Morse is a GIANT liar. I spent 4.5 hours in the 3rd Street tunnel with no guidance no update nothing, when we finally reached the top of the tunnel and rounded the corner we were told we wouldn't get in. I walked back to my apt in tears. There were at least 100k people behind me when we rounded the corner

Posted by: clearbluewater33 | January 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

i cant believe people are complaining about not getting in. 2 million people beat you to it. go to the parade or watch on tv.

Posted by: jnicol2 | January 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The crowd at 7th and D formed at around 6 am. They were still there the last time I heard them at around 10:30am.

Posted by: caraprado1 | January 20, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Chief morse is either A) lying or B) entirely ignorant about the reality- neither is a comforting thought. It was an absolutely cluster &*#@ nightmare.

Waited hours in the blue line w/o moving- thousands of us with tickets didn't make it. No volunteers or crowd control of any kind. Devolved from a line to a mob, started to get dangerous.

A single volunteer with a megaphone would have made a world of difference.

Sad to imagine the people who traveled thousands of miles to be here and in the end couldn't even watch it on a jumbotron.

Posted by: grahamagp | January 20, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

My partner and I had purple tickets, but waited in line for OVER 4 hours in the D Street tunnel. We left by 10:15 and made it home by 11:27, just in time for the ceremony on TV. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED WITH CAPITOL POLICE? DC POLICE? WHY WASN'T THERE BETTER SIGNAGE AND CROWD CONTROL?

Posted by: pedroeb | January 20, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

We also waited 4 hours with purple tickets. The purple gate was in fact NEVER opened in the first place. For those folks telling us to get over it, you have no idea how heartbreaking it was to actually get tickets and be turned away.

Posted by: Allison2222 | January 20, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

we got in line at 4:50 right at indiana and 1st. We gave up a little after 10:00. The whole time we only saw three officers. Two people passed out and children were being crushed by the crowd. "helpful people" were telling people to go the wrong way. There was absolutely no direction at all. even now I don't where the entrance was (it certainly wasn't where my ticket or sign said it was) . I am so disappointed and upset with the poor planning. Most of this could have easily been avoided.

Posted by: MGroves1 | January 20, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

We got there at 0630am with our Purple tickets and we did not get in (joined by what I can only estimate were thousands of other purple ticket holders). There was absolutely no communication as to what was supposed to happen or was happening. It was only by the grace and joy of the people in the line that something very dangerous did not occur. This was horribly managed and while I'm happy that Obama is President, this historic moment has been marred by poor logistics and unfairness.

Posted by: baileyhand | January 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Typical, unprepared, ill-organized, capitol police force.

It fits because it is juuust like everything else in DC!

Posted by: onestring | January 20, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

It was utter chaos. I had a purple ticket, waited 2 hours in a stifling crowd that moved half a block the entire time. On top of that, we were being dangerously crushed together because ambulances were trying to pass down the street, crowded inch-to-inch with people holding purple tickets. Were there no streets kept clear for emergency vehicles?

Moreover,no one, not a single officer, made any attempt to let us know what was going on and whether the checkpoint was going to be open, or whether we should turn around and give up. An old-fashioned bullhorn would have worked nicely.

This was really poorly run. I also ran into a couple from Nevada on the metro who had tickets to seats on the platform and could not get in either.

Three cheers for metro -- had no problems getting in or out. And a big raspberry to everyone else, including the Capitol Police.

Posted by: trace1 | January 20, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sorry to see this happened to so many ticketholders. DC Park Police should be ashamed. I kept wondering how 240,000 people were supposed to fit in that small space in front of the Capitol, and now I know.

Posted by: jennifermb98 | January 20, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Echoing others' comments, I'm astonished at the audacity of Chief Morse's lie. I was among an enormous throng of blue ticket holders, some of whom told us they'd been there as early as 6:00 a.m. According to what little information we could get as it filtered through the crowd (none from Capitol Police by the way, who offered no information and when asked simply shrugged and said they knew no more than we did) was that early in the morning the power had failed at the gate for the purposes of the security screenings, and as such the gate itself never really opened. Or if it did it was only briefly (again, this is heresay from the crowd; no official or even unofficial info from the police). And that despite bringing in a generator they were never able to fully restore power. We gave up and left at 11:45 when the crowd information was that screeners were "wanding" ticket holders through security. One by one. The loss of power and the inability to restore it was an unfortunate occurrence and as such impossible to place blame on the Capitol Police, but the lack of contingency plan and/or appropriate and swift response -- or in this case, any response at all -- certainly was their responsibility. And one that it would seem they simply abdicated. As we passed by the orange gate just a short walk from the blue gate, we saw at least a dozen capitol police standing about aimlessly, doing nothing more than chatting with each other, at the empty gate....why were blue ticket holders not redirected there? And why the lack of information? As a few others have noted, we too live right here on the Hill, so while a disappointment ours was certainly not on the level of those who expended so much time and money to travel here, only to be unceremoniously turned away. Well, not even turned away. Ignored. So very sad. And again, Chief Morse, with all due respect to you and the fact that you really did have the terribly difficult task of having to oversee the clearing and managing of this mass of humanity, why such an outrageous and unnecessary lie? It truly adds incredible insult to injury; I actually winced when I read your comments. Why would you what you did when instead you could have considered even just two simple words, at least to those who traveled so far and at their own expense to be a part of this historical moment: "I'm sorry."

Posted by: lolaindc | January 20, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

six of us had purple tickets. we arrived at the designated entry point, per instructions on the ticket a bit before 8 AM. none of us got in. there was absolutely no crowd control. we were given no direction, almost run over by 5 ambulances, and witnessed numerous people passing out, panicking, and frustrated. other purple ticket holders in the crowd were patient, friendly, and great- DC police, not so. i stayed until 12:30 PM, holding out- but never got in. shameful.

Posted by: kem8c | January 20, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I was also standing in the purple line for three-and-a-half hours. I agree with the commenters above. No crowd control at all. Occasionally a bus or emergency vehicle would come through flashing lights. Presumably ferrying VIPs? Absolutely dangerous situation. Also, no bathrooms.

The woman standing next to me was an incoming undersecretary at the Department of Energy and was texting with the incoming Secretary of Energy--that made me feel less bad.

Our hypothesis is that they had way more tickets printed than actual seats because of congressional whining to the inauguration committee. Epic fail. People should lose jobs.

Posted by: creweeny | January 20, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Also to people who are saying with apparent schadenfreude that ticket-holders should have expected what they got, realize that almost the entire campaign field staff that worked their hearts out for the campaign, people like me, were totally screwed. Probably because people who were getting sucked up to by their Congressman were given tickets that should never have been printed. There really needs to be an investigation of what went wrong. WaPo, are you listening?

Posted by: creweeny | January 20, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

My parents, who flew in from Arizona, and I had blue tickets. We walked 2.5 miles to get in line and were there by 7:30am. By 10:30 we saw that we would not have time to get in - due to the lack of crowd control, the number of people jumping in line, the lack of information about where to go. It was a real disappointment. Luckily, we made it back to watch the inauguration on TV. Mostly, I think, this was a failure of the DC authorities to manage this event and distribute information. As happy as the occasion is, it does not shed positive light on DC.

Posted by: bethivy13 | January 20, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

As I rejected purple ticket holder, I was really upset to learn that yellow ticket holders had heaters to keep them warm while on line and were seated by 8:40 am. We arrived at 7 AM. During our four hour wait there was no bathroom, water, or heat. I did see two trash cans for the THOUSANDS of people left to stand in the cold tunnel. This all could have been avoided and it is a shame the organizers failed the everyone who stood in that tunnel with a false promised of admittance.

Posted by: SS34 | January 20, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Again, both me and my daughter had purple tickets. Arrived at 7:00 AM. We were packed in on First Street with silver and purple ticket holders, why? People started passing out, becoming scared and having anxiety attacks. The police and the ambulance personnel provided little to no help. At one time the ambulance was waived down, only to continue to drive in the other direction. At 11:00 AM, still no one was allowed to enter. People started pushing and becoming angry. Again no police. 11:12 one gate opened, 11:45 gate closed. There seemed like a thousand purple ticket holders were not able to get it. We left with the bitter taste of DC being completely unprepared, not caring or providing trained personnel with knowledge of an event. After so much talk, DC police and emergency staff should be embarrassed.

Posted by: coreycarter33 | January 20, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I completely sympathize with people's frustrations, which are similar to those experienced by my family. But bethivy13, note that the ticketed areas around the Capitol were the responsibility of the Capitol Police and Congress more generally -- it is not fair to blame "DC authorities" or DC generally for this particular snafu.

Posted by: tango1 | January 20, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The line wrapped around 1st and D to under the 3rd street tunnel.

We arrived just before 5am, watch the elderly and children freeze for hours.

The gate closure was not communicated and many missed the event waiting in the tunnel. MPD reported no communication with event organizers.

There were less than 1 dozen police for well over 30,000 people. Jersey Barricade separating a line of those there since 2am and the mob of latecomers pushing into the front would have been very helpful.

A hugely disappointing charlie foxtrot. Hope no one paid $1000 for their ticket on craigs list!

Posted by: collin_s | January 20, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Me and my boyfriend arrived around 4:30 to be in line just outside of the tunnel. Never once did we get an idea of what was going on from anybody. We had to network to many people to find out what really happened. Thousands did not get in and only a few did. Through networking with people, we were told that the silver area got out of control and filled the purple area. The people doing security ended up locking everyone one who had a purple ticket out. There were no officials informing the thousands that did not get in. We pushed our way to the gate to find out that they did indeed not let people in. People were screaming and holding their tickets in the air. Sadly, most probably saw building, tunnels, and people, while the ceremony was going on. We left around 11:30 to the metro to watch on a few minutes of the speech. This is what I came from california for? Getting a ticket to be on the street with no way to experience the swearing in. It did not look like they bothered to organize anything as police were just sitting around, not doing anything other than saying that we don't know anything and I don't think you will get in, so you might as well go home.

Many did just that. That chief is a flatout liar. I am very disappointed with D.C. I hope he apologizes for lying. That is the least he can do.

Posted by: blahag | January 20, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

We had purple tickets and also could not get through the check point. There was no crowd control, no organization, no police officers. We were all stuck behind an enormous fence. We could see all the security mags sitting practically empty. The crowds were scary. One police office told us, "We've lost control of the crowds. If I were you, I'd go home and watch it on TV." It was bitterly disappointing.

Posted by: kelcey2009 | January 20, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Tango 1 - who / which organization had responsibility for ensuring all ticketholders were able to get onto the Mall?

Posted by: bethivy13 | January 20, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

If the DC and Capitol Police are this incompetent, we should all get on our knees and pray that their is not a large terrorist attack in DC. Heads should roll for all of our sakes. I was there and there was no organization, no information, no official presence of any kind whatsoever. You blew it DC, and the world knows it.

Posted by: sethpendleton | January 20, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@bethivy13 -- the organizations responsible for ticketholders and ticketholder arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony were (1) The Presidential Inaugural Committee; (2) Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies; and (3) the Capitol Police. The first two groups have websites where you can get more info, don't know about the Capitol Police.

Posted by: tango1 | January 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I arrived to the blue area by 8 AM and got in line behind other blue ticketholders. The line was not managed by any police or any uniformed personnel. It barely moved for hours, and the only news we heard was from people in the line around us. Some people said that the security machines broke, someone else said people without tickets broke into the blue section. I also heard that Congress released way more tickets than there were seats/spaces, gave a lot to their cronies and told them to get there very early.

We ended up finding a restaurant and watched the ceremony on TV. I was so disappointed/sad/frustrated/furious that I couldn't even listen to Obama's speech, and just focused on my burger and beer. I was at the White House on Election Night, and was part of the spontaneous ecstatic crowd in DC that day. I definitely didn't expect to feel the exact opposite way on Inauguration Day.

And one more thing, CNN and other news outlets of course won't cover this, since it doesn't fit into their "historic day" narrative.

Is it too late to vote for McCain?

Posted by: WorthlessBlueTix | January 20, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Want to know the word? The purple gate checkpoint never actually opened. Ever. Apparently, there was a security breach earlier in the morning, which caused the Powers That Be to lock that section down. Only after 11:00am did someone (thank you to that one perso; at least you tried) get on a megaphone to announce that the Yellow gate was going to going to START accepting Purple tickets along with the yellow....about 10 minutes later, the person announced only Purple was going to be accepted through the yellow gate....and maybe 20 minutes after that (after a slow trickle of purples getting through), the ad hoc gate was closed. It was really quite sad. Not a single officer in sight. Thousands of people chanting, "1,2,3,4: We dont wanna wait no more! 5,6,7,8: Let us through the purple gate!" Lots of frustration. No explanation at all, no crowd control. There were apparently some officials turning people away earlier in the morning (at this point, I was still deep in the New York Ave. tunnel), simply telling people "turn left to take the train". That's it. I know of many people who arrived in other sections (orange, silver, non-ticketed) who arrived late in the morning and got in fine without delay. Meanwhile, there were purple ticket holders that arrived at 4am, that were near the front of the line, that never made it in.

So, in sum, it had very little (if anything) to do with overcrowding, overpopulation of sorts. I'm sure if one was to actually take an account of purple ticket holders that made it inside, one would find a very pitiful number. I look forward to an explanation; one that doesn't involve outright lies.

Posted by: schalazeal | January 20, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Where are all the BLUE ticket holders? Thousands of us were left out in the cold. My friend and I left at about 11:45, after realizing that it would take at least an hour more to get in, if we would get in at all. Congressional aides didn't get in. Hundreds abandoned hope before we did. There was no single line -- just a big mob of people and various long lines like ours at about 2nd and Washington, on the south side of Rayburn building, leading to a fence beside the gate -- i.e. NOWHERE!

Add to that, rumors that people got in without tickets at all. Completely incompetent handling of what was to be a beautiful event.

Posted by: madblueticket | January 20, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I knew that the crowds were going to be bad today so I thought that leaving Fairfax, VA at 3:30am was going to be plenty of time to get to the Capitol, especially with my purple ticket. Apparently I was completely wrong. I live 7 miles from Vienna Metro station and it took me over two hours to get there. And Metro was really overcrowded and the trains just couldn't handle it. From Vienna to Metro Center, we had two trains in front of ours break down and unload. Though, the Metro staff was helpful and did maintain order as people continuously tried to cut the long lines.

I finally got to Judiciary Square at 8am, an hour before the purple ticket holder gate was scheduled to open, but stood in a massive crowd of people for over two hours. By 10:30, we still hadn't moved and to top it all off, in that two hour span, three DC ambulances made the already angry crowd move out of the (pedestrian only) street so they could get through- but they didn't even end up going anywhere. They just moved up one block over and parked there! After the crowd started chanting "Let us Through" a few times, I finally gave up hope of getting through and went to a friend's house in Crystal City to watch the ceremony. I got there just in time to see the swearing in. After reading all the comments on this page, I'm so glad I made the right decision to leave.

I know city officials and others planned for over two years for this event, but more could have been done. And, it was very insensitive for the chief of police to make a false statement (that all ticket holders got through the checkpoints), especially since so many ticket holders were already so upset.

Posted by: purpleticketholder | January 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Postfan, clearly you don't comprehend how hard some of us worked to get our hands on these coveted tickets. For some of us, it was a unique token of thanks from our congressperson for hard campaign work toward their election and for a lot of people, getting these tickets took calling, asking and bargaining for months, and a 2 hour line to pick the tickets up from our congresspersons yesterday in the cold, among the masses. To do all of that, fight the crowd, and then turn up before dawn, as instructed, and stand in sub freezing temperatures for 5 hours only to be left in a throng of people, neither able to be at the event nor watch it is more than a disappointment. If they issued the tickets, they should have been prepared for a smooth entry process. There was absolute lawlessness and no police to help protect our safety and the accountability of Cap police, who are clearly as inept as I've always known them to be in my 5 years of living in this city (where I don't have representation in Congress, by the way) and so really, the only thing I did wrong in this situation was to be naive enough to think that Washington, DC could handle this when they can't even manage to send me my tax forms every year.

Posted by: dc1980 | January 20, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It was a total breakdown of communication. In addition to the thousands standing there at noon, we were on first and at least 2000 people left rather than wait to get through the first chained link fence, prior to getting to the "purple gate."

No where did we find an officer who knew anything. In fact, one officer was encouraging the crowd to chant louder. No one could hear the one woman with a megaphone trying to instruct people. The really sad thing, as someone above alluded to, a significant portion of the people left out were young people who worked on the campaign who were issued purple tickets.

Posted by: nothankspurpleticket | January 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Strongly agree with all the other commenters about the breakdown of communication, chaos, etc. of the "lines." My husband & I waited from 7:30-11:15, purple tickets in hand, and were turned away.
I'm wondering if anyone knows of any purple or blue ticket holders who actually did get in?

Posted by: cg09 | January 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Stated a previous poster: "If they issued the tickets, they should have been prepared for a smooth entry process."

This to me is the crux of the matter. A wiser, albeit politically unpopular choice, would have been to keep the number of ticketholders to the absolute bare minimum befitting an official ceremony of this magnitude -- say, members of Congress, cabinet officials, supreme court justices -- and let everyone else duke it out for space on the mall. At least that way everyone is on equal terms, and you are not unduly raising people's expectations of their experience.

Instead, an disproportionate (and apparently overwhelming) amount of planning and security resources were required to service a relatively small number of people, mostly so that members of congress and the inaugural committee would have presents to dole out to their faithful supporters. I'm not suggesting that such supporters were undeserving, just that the magnitude of the event and the onerous nature of the screening requirements imposed by the Secret Service, etc. made it unrealistic to think that so many people could really be accommodated with "special" arrangements. I am truly sorry so many people wound up being disappointed.

Posted by: tango1 | January 20, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I had a purple ticket. I think if you get a ticket, its fair to expect that you'll be able to see the inauguration.

I waited in line at First and D street for about 5 hours. The crowd was dangerous. People were packed together so closely it was impossible to raise your arms. People mostly maintained their composure, but elderly people started fainting after waiting for hours in the cold. Squad cars and ambulances tried to get through, but it was virtually impossible because of the crowd density.

DC Police were ineffectual and frustrated. They had no information, and were not communicating with the crowd.

I don't know that anyone with purple tickets actually got into the inauguration. Its really a tragedy, because purple ticket holders were mostly volunteers from the campaign. I worked for the campaign, did election protection work on Nov. 4, and donated over 250 hours of free legal work to the transition team. I am sad that I missed the entire event - we couldn't see any jumbotrons or hear any of the speeches. I would have been happier on the mall with everyone else, but thought that with a ticket I would have a better chance of seeing something.

Other volunteers around me broke down and cried when they realized they wouldn't be able to get in. A 6o year old woman traveled all the way from California and started waiting at 4am. She also cried when she heard that the gates were locked.

This is a tragedy.

Posted by: Randall2 | January 20, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

There's a facebook group for people who were stuck in the purple ticket tunnel.


Posted by: dtmky | January 20, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

We also had purple tickets, had been there for several hours waiting in line, and were turned away after the inauguration began. MY BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH THIS IS THAT THERE WERE NO CAPITOL POLICE OR ANY OTHER OFFICIAL SECURITY PERSONNEL DIRECTING PEOPLE WHERE TO GO OR WHAT WAS GOING ON. NONE! None even in the area--the Purple Gate was completely devoid of official personnel when we got there. I understand about security breaches . . . but a little information would have been nice (particularly if Purple ticket holders were redirected to another entrance).

Posted by: cindyandpaul | January 20, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Also had a blue ticket and didnt get in. Were standing in line for 3 and a half hours. Absolutely no direction or any instructions, no line, nothing. I am so disappointed to have missed the event. ridiculous. After obama's speech was over half over someone finally got on a megaphone and told everone to go to the mall to watch. There was no way to even get there at that point. There were many many thousands more ticketed guests locked outside the gates

Posted by: caseytorgy | January 20, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I was a purple ticket holder in line at 5:30am. I was there until 12:15pm and DID NOT get in to the Capitol grounds. There were no lines, no corridors, no barricades, no crowd control and NO POLICE to be seen anywhere all through the 6 hours I stood in line. There were thousands of people not let in. See the big empty patches where the purple ticket holders were supposed to be. The worst part was the callous disregard for people standing in the cold. We got no information no direction on what was going on. People were patient but in the end disappointed at not being able to watch many of us that traveled across the country to watch. It was a celebration of the culmination of the hours of volunteer work put in by many....

Posted by: ratnahome | January 20, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I got to the purple gate just before 6 this morning and even as a Capitol Hill resident of 10+ years I was absolutely confused of where to go. It was a sea of people -- one couldn't tell one "line" from another. At no point was there an officer or organizer present to manage the crowd or give direction. After spending more than 4 hours in line, 2 of which were spent pushed up against a metal fence directly across from the largely unused screening stations, I finally left and made my way home, thankful that I would be able to see the ceremony on TV and truly heartbroken for those that have worked so hard and traveled so long for this day only to be shut out at the gate.

The DC Police and Capitol Police should be ashamed of the way they handled the situation, but as a DC resident I can't really say that I'm surprised. I would also like to add that the TSA folks did a great job and should be commended for their efforts and patience.

Posted by: dc-caphill | January 20, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I feel lots of empathy for those of you who traveled far and had tickets to the event and couldn't get in. But please, please don't place blame on the new administration or our new president. And to those of you who call this the worst planned inauguration ever -- how many have you been to and how many have you been to that we're being called the largest ever? Realize that things don't always go as planned and you need to roll with it. Be grateful for what you have. You were alive to witness the election of our president and healthy enough to make the trip. That's what matters most.

Posted by: angelb1 | January 20, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I was a purple ticket holder and was in line before 7:00 AM stuck in the 3rd Street Tunnel of Doom for over 3 hours after being directed down there by Capitol police after being made to show my ticket. There were thousands behind us as well. Those who were there hours before us also didn't get in. By the time we got out of the damn tunnel after 11:00AM the Purple gate was fenced off and no one was being let in. No police, no explanation, no instructions. Horrible crowd control. Morse's statement that ticket holders got in is a LIE. The extra checkpoint is a LIE. I don't have much ground to complain about, the purple ticket was a gift of my senator but the capitol crowd control was horrible and I feel well within my right to complain about being disenfranchised by their actions. I missed seeing the inauguration live in my ticketed section and I am very disappointed. There must have been thousands of us that didn't get in. I don't know of any purple ticket holders that got in. We did everything right, as instructed. So very disappointed.

Posted by: spoonyfork | January 20, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Tango 1 - who / which organization had responsibility for ensuring all ticketholders were able to get onto the Mall?"

The PIC - Presidential Inaugural Committee. Go write them a letter. Watch them lose it in a crowd and then turn it away...

Posted by: dizzle2008 | January 20, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Chief Morse and his crew should be fired!!
This was a pathetic approach to plan for the event. None of the officers knew where to direct us or answer any questions. All purple ticket holders were not granted access...Chief Morses statement is false. This just shows what poor planning and leadership the City is faced with. We were turned away at two different gates, one being at 1st and D st and the other at the 2nd st tunnel. We started at 6:30am and didn't move in line for hrs.

If they had been expecting 4 million people then planning should have been done accordingly. No signs, no portable toilets, no officers and volunteers in site except for when someone was hurt and had to be carried away.

This was pi$$ poor planning. I've been at events as large as over 1 million attendees and haven't experienced this poor of planning! If the City needs some tips...call me to BRING CHANGE TO DC!!

Posted by: bhavnip | January 20, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

We had 2 purple tickets. I came from California to witness this incredible/historic occasion (with my father) only to be denied after waiting for from 7am until 12pm.

I'm glad security was in place, but the policemen/firemen who came to "oversee" the purple crowd offered no information or any assistance for dealing with traffic issues, no help about where gates could be accessed, and failed to provide any substantive information to the thousands of purple ticket holders.

after 5 hours of waiting only to be denied after repeated requests to "show us your purple tickets," we ended up missing the entire event. the one and only saving grace was an event truck parked to the side of the Capitol (next to the rejected purple gate) which opened its window to allow a handful of us try to listen to Obama's speech.

my friends with silver tickets where also denied, but had the fortune of being physically closer to where the large screens showing the speech were, thus enabling them to catch much of the speech.

who would have thought...flying to DC from CA, essentially winning the ticket "lottery," no weather issues, and being 20 yards from the gate...only to have to rely on watching the speech/inauguration online now that we've gotten out of DC some 6+ hours later...

Posted by: boilr | January 20, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

This was so poorly organized all around I am amazed the only story being picked up is the purple ticket situation. Blue and silver ticket holders faced the same issues. The majority of ticket holders in the purple and blue areas were turned away I would say, I can't speak to the silver section.

As for those saying that they can't believe people thought a ticket would guarantee them a spot...that is what tickets are for. Judging by the fact something similar happened at the last inauguration you would think they would decrease the number of tickets handed out or come up with a better way to get ticket holders in. It is just ridiculous.

Posted by: arielhilldavis | January 20, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@angelb1 I would feel that way if there was a sense of preparation. There were no officials directing anything, no barricades, and no updates while many of us stood in line for 7 to 8 hours. I arrived around 4:30 to leave 7 hours later fairly close to the front. I could have set up the barricades myself in those 8 hours. All it would have taken, would have been about 5 officers walking around with barricades set up. People were calm, friendly and not causing problems.

Posted by: blahag | January 20, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Came with my boyfriend from SF - got tickets because I worked for the campaign as part of the Wisconsin data team in October. I was really disappointed as well, but feel really bad for those that came even earlier than us and didn't get in. There was a couple with a son performing with the SF boys choir, in line at 5 a.m. and she said the gates never opened. Feel even worse for all those volunteers and staff that worked so hard to see this moment. Out of all the people with purple tickets, one of my data team members did get in - he was one of the few lucky ones that somehow made it, and had waited since 4 a.m. (Good for him!) He said he was wondering why the back of the section was empty. What a crowd though - most people were friendly, and we were all so courteous, and tried to make best of the situation. Though I didn't get to see it live, it was really amazing to be part of such a positive group. I hope everyone has a great time the rest of today, and let's hope we all get into those balls!

Posted by: lisafchen | January 20, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

All i can do is echo the comments of other blue ticket holders who could not get in. hours waiting , no sense of direction or purpose to guide people who were in the wrong spot. people had flooded the streets and there were some official cars that were surrounded, no one could move and there were hundreds , if not more , blue ticket holders that did not get in.

Posted by: sdefife | January 20, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

No email address for the PIC, but here's the mailing address:

Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009
Washington, D.C. 20599

Particularly for people who worked countless hours for the campaign, traveled long distances and spent hard-earned dollars on lodging and airfare, it is outrageous that they missed the swearing-in entirely.

Posted by: trace1 | January 20, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I was in the blue line a bit before 8 am, and at 11:50 the police shut the gates on several thousand people. There was no control, the "line" had turned into a most pit, the planning did not appear to have been done well at all.

Posted by: eprice29 | January 20, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

All i can do is echo the comments of other blue ticket holders who could not get in. hours waiting , no sense of direction or purpose to guide people who were in the wrong spot. people had flooded the streets and there were some official cars that were surrounded, no one could move and there were hundreds , if not more , blue ticket holders that did not get in.

Posted by: sdefife | January 20, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

info@pic2009.org is the only e-mail address I've seen for the 2009 Inaugural Committee.

Posted by: plinth8 | January 20, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse


There where tens of thousands of us that did not get in. Were were they going to put us? I looked over our space yesterday and it was not that big?

Also, we were next to the orange security screening area and they were essentially done by 10:30. At this point they had no line and were only handling stragglers. Those of us with Blue and Silver tickets could only watch in envy and wonder why they didn't adjust and use the orange screeners to process us.

It was a sad place at 11:30. So many people that had traveled so far. So many elderly. If we had known that some of the ticket holders could not get in, then we could have either arrived really early or not come. Of course, if you had an orange ticket, no problem.

Posted by: MJ14 | January 20, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Here are some photos of the insanity.


Posted by: glickdaddy | January 20, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Purple ticket holders here.

Arrived at 6:00 am, waited 2.5 hours, ushered in with no problems. DC Police were unfailingly kind and helpful.

A day I will never forget.

Posted by: traditional | January 20, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

They should have just opened the gates and allowed everyone to go in. People could have crawled over each other like naked mole rats traveling blindly through the mall tube.

Posted by: justhere | January 20, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone confirm if the Purple Gate did/did not open at all? My wife and I were in line at 7am, but it seems that many who arrived well before then and were cued up on First St., also did not get in. This is a disaster for the Inaugural Committee and the Park Police that could have become a much bigger problem. I've seen better crowd management at FedEx Field, and most everyone there is drunk.

Posted by: pbirkmeier | January 20, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I did not have tickets, but have friends who had silver tickets, and they did not get in.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | January 20, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

My girlfriend and I had silver tickets. We got through the security checkpoint at 3rd Street NW, but then there was nowhere to go. All the gates to the Silver area had closed by 10:30am - or had never opened, according to other silver ticketholders. Police officers and volunteers were sympathetic, but did not know what was going on other than that silver ticketholders were not being let in.

Posted by: hoyanick1 | January 20, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I blame Bush.


De-fund the DC Police and Homeland Insecurity now! Yeagh!

Posted by: bs2004 | January 20, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

@traditional I suppose you were some of the few that I saw were ushered in by police that were pushing people in line out of the way to get you there. I am glad it was a great day for you. Maybe you should have taken a few others with you. Especially those waiting 2 hours prior.

Posted by: blahag | January 20, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

We had purple tix but got in b/c of a miracle. Got in line in the tunnel of doom around 8am. After moving up to the purple gate at like 10:30am found out it was closed.

We were about to give up and go home, but a random cop said that we could get in from New Jersey street. So we smashed down there and got through the gate after about 45 minutes. But it was hell, no organization and a some lady on a megaphone simply shouting that this "was purple tickets ONLY." At the point of entry they didn't even check our tickets and only 10 or so metal detectors seemed to be working.

Eventually, go to the area just behind the capital lawn (near the fountain) right when Barack took the oath and made the speech.

Complete disaster. But at least we got in, thanks to some random advice from a cop.

Posted by: wookie1976 | January 20, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

If I had known having a ticket meant nothing, I would have gone to the general admission section of the Mall. Instead, I arrived at the purple gate at 7am, before the gates had opened, at which point the "line" had already turned into a mob of people. For at least three hours, we all kept our spirits up, but by 10:30, people were getting very frustrated. Seriously, I never saw one police officer or National Guardsman try to direct the crowd. At several points, I was so squished I couldn't move my arms I was packed in so tightly. The biggest problem, in addition to the lack of crowd control, was the lack of information. A little info goes a long way. Seriously, they couldn't have mounted a loudspeaker somewhere to communicate with people? Instead, we were left with rumor and confusion and doubt. By the end, it was every man for himself, people rushing the purple gate hoping to get in. I ended up standing next to someone who had arrived more than two hours after me. Arriving early counted for nothing.

The whole crowd went there expecting to wait, expecting to have to fight through crowds, etc. But we expected the DC Police to have a plan to get everyone inside, especially the people who arrived before the gates even opened!

It was so disappointing.

Posted by: ALC3653 | January 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

We are purple ticket holders. We traveled from Arizona, costing us thousands of dollars, got up at 5 am and spent four hours in the tunnel that DC police told us to enter and another two after managing to emerge into the sunlight. We never got in, never saw anything, never heard a word of the inauguration. Thousands of others were in the same boat. Nobody ever explained anything to us after shoving us down in that tunnel. People from all over the nation had come, many elderly, many holding young children. We deserved at least an explanation in sufficient time to allow us to find a different vantage point to watch the ceremony. We saw and heard nothing. Senator Feinstein, the DC police and others ought to be ashamed of themselves. We watched dozens of TSA officers at the Purple gate stand around with NOTHING to do. None of them would even come over to tell us what was going on. This was really a screwed up event and cost many of us much money that we could not afford to lay out. We would have come anyway, but deserved the opportunity to mingle with the crowd above ground, not stuck in a tunnel after being deceived that it would allow us to get a vantage on history.

Posted by: mocoloco | January 20, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

As a DC resident/Blue Ticket holder, I'm embarrassed and frustrated by debacle of the inauguration tickets. There was NO police presence, save one officer who refused to answer questions or do any sort of work at crowd control. The line turned into a mob when it became clear that it wasn't going to move, and it's amazing that no one was hurt. I've seen better security at a Jr High Basketball game. Chief Morse, quit lying ("...all tickets were honored") and get busy figuring out how to do your job.

Posted by: kar30 | January 20, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Another purple ticket holder here. We were corralled with thousands of other ticket holders from 7:45-9am at 1st and D, when suddenly the crowd was released -- but with nowhere to go (the road was inexplicably blocked off with a bus, and there were no signs or directions). The consensus seemed to be to head left, toward New Jersey, and when we finally found the "Purple Gate" sign, we thought all was well. Unfortunately, we were greeted with a sea of *thousands* of people, no signs, and not a single volunteer in sight. We eventually found ourselves in a "line" (mob) of purple ticket holders that seemed to be inching toward a gate (at Louisiana -- NOT the gate advertised on our ticket). At 11am we gave up, spent 5 minutes pushing our way through the crowd, and eventually ended up on Mass Ave where an awesome electronics store owner had kindly put a great flat-panel on the sidewalk. Thankfully, we were just in time to see the swearing-in!

To me, the most egregious thing was that we did not see a SINGLE volunteer the entire 4 1/2 hours we were there. I'll repeat -- not ONE. Nor was there a SINGLE sign or attempt to organize the crowd, other than the useless "Purple Gate" banner. That, to me, is completely unforgiveable. It's only due to the fact that everyone in the crowd was INCREDIBLY patient and nice that no one was seriously injured (although several people were treated by doctors in the crowd for minor injuries) due to the complete lack of crowd control. All in all, an incredible disappointment -- especially given that organizers knew EXACTLY how many tickets were distributed. I sincerely hope for all our sakes that the "organizers" of the purple gate don't have a role in the new administration.

Posted by: enyox | January 20, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

As a DC resident and a purple ticket holder that waited for over 4.5 hours only to be turned away, I'm ashamed that the Capitol Police Chief would make such a statement as the one he made. Clearly if he had been at the Purple gate where there were several thousand people with tickets turned away, he wouldn't have made such a statement.... Horrible that there was no communication from the ticket collectors or security as to what was going on. As a result, those who thought they had a guaranteed spot to see the inauguration spent their mornings bitter and angry instead of celebrating this historic moment.

Posted by: srdaisy | January 20, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I second all of the comments of frustration and disappointment. With two purple tickets in hand and very excited to witness Obama's inauguration, my boyfriend and I arrived at 6:30 am. We stood in line until 11:30, without any sign of movement or information except the rumors that spread throughout the crowd. We eventually gave up. The lack of preparation and organization is unbelievable! The only silver lining was the the friendliness and camaraderie of the people gathered there.

As residents of Capitol Hill, my boyfriend and I didn't have far to go to return home and catch the ceremony on TV (with new friends from the crowd), but I feel especially bad for the people who traveled a long way. I wish I had thrown away my tickets and gone straight to the Washington Monument! I'm very disappointed with this organizational failure.

Posted by: keziam | January 20, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I was also in the blue line for several hours and the only reason the line moved was because many were leaving. Eventually we ended up in a giant mass of people crowed around the gate. There was not a single officer or volunteer in sight. If there had been any issue with the crowd hundreds could have died before the police even knew. Fortunately the crowd did not lose control, however, we should be asking for resignations just as we would if people did got hurt. Disgraceful! By the way I would estimate the numbers of blue ticket holders who did not get in to be in the thousands.

Posted by: keyblue | January 20, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Segregation in the District of Columbia continues or just getting started?The most histirical event gets clouded in the color of ticket a group of people were issued.Where were those expert psychoquacks from St. Mary's to analysis this discriminatory color choice?Any private survey companies that could be brought in to get the opinions poles statistical data on the matter?How many corporate executives to sit in the box seats looking down on those little people believing in this process that has been broken since Reganomics.Enough police present to ensure a few fines and court cost for the unruliness of those of us who choose to use the word no when it comes to the injustices of selective government participation.

Posted by: formerheap | January 20, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

we had blue tickets are were in line by 7:15am, gates did not open on time and there was no way to control the lines once the crowd grew too large. People who arrived at 11:30 got in and some who were there since 5:00am dd not. There were no police officers or anyone to offer news on the delay or control the crowd. We finally left when they officially closed they blue gate around 11:45. At that time the metal detectors and equipment were already packed up at the orange gate...seems that if there was trouble searching ticket holders they could have re-routed through the orange security checkpoint. Too many tickets were given out and organizing lines and getting people through security was poorly planned. As a DC resident I was disappointed, but I can't imagine what it was like to be turned away for all the people who saved money and traveled across the country to come to the inauguration.

Posted by: kayci86 | January 20, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS

Posted by: hclark1 | January 20, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

We were so excited to have two Purple Tickets for today, and we arrived at the designated Purple gate area shortly after 6:30am.

What we encountered was nothing short of a shameful, abysmal, inexcusable and utter failure of leadership, foresight, and planning at every level. I am not prone to hyperbole, but today i am a calm person who has been forced into exasperation. I have run out of negative superlatives to use while trying to describe the organizers' despicable incompetence and unpreparedness that ruined our day.

Shame on the police chief for boasting that every ticket holder got in. Thousands of us were crushed in a mob, stuck with no information and locked gates around 1st and C NW, right behind the Jones Day law firm office. Shame on the "organizers" for failing to organize anything at the Purple gate. Our tickets were rendered meaningless, and we never even came close to getting in.

We stood back-to-chest, shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of others in a mob ---- there was no line, only a mob. In 5 hours standing in "line," we did not see one person in authority: no police, no volunteers, no security on the ground (only security atop buildings above our heads). No one provided information of any kind. There was zero crowd control, and no signs beyond the giant Purple gate itself. this was a dangerous situation, and it was only the positive spirit and good nature of most crowd members that prevented a dangerous riot or trampling.

Shame. What an utter failure, an embarrassment, a colossal screw-up. We left not only disappointed, but also infuriated at such a prominent display of incompetence.


Posted by: keziam | January 20, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

My sister and I had silver tickets. After going through security at 3rd street and realizing that the crossing at Pennsylvania and 3rd was closed I asked a nearby officer where to go. He sort of shrugged saying "yea, I thought the were going to let people cross here." He has no idea what was going on. He told us to leave the secure area to get to Lousianna and 1st. As everyone else on here states, this was a non-starter. By 10:30 we gave up and headed home. So disappointing.

I couldn't believe the level of disorganization and poor planning, especially because we all knew there would be large crowds. Did security not see all the reports in the weeks leading up to this? The only helpful person at the purple gate was this guy who was escorting people into the 101 Constitution Ave building. This was a small minority of the people with tickets and he had absolutely NO IDEA what to tell the rest of us. At least I can say that I tried.

Posted by: jep0525 | January 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I was a purple ticket holder, got to 4th & Louisiana Ave NW at 7am where I was instructed to go in and was pointed down into a tunnel, that I needed to get in the line to pass through the security line. I walked clear through the tunnel and made it to the back of the line by 730am. Not ONCE did we ever hear from anyone what our status was. At 1130, when we emerged from the tunnel, where I started four and a half hours earlier, we were herded back into the masses of people, and were told we would not be getting in. We were so disappointed in the lack of organization and information for the four hours we stood in an orderly fashion in the line. Finally as we stood in a mob of grief-stricken Americans, they started opening a gate and as President Obama was being sworn in, I finally got through the gate. Whoever was in charge of this should be fired! It was ridiculous!!!

Posted by: kflo0202 | January 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

My friend who worked on the campaign for nearly two years, mostly as a full time volunteer, and his friend had purple seats. Both traveled to DC at considerable sacrifice of both work time and travel costs, and were held in a dangerously packed "paddock" outside a "purple" entrance for hours, missed the entire event, did not even see or hear any part of it on loudspeaker or tv.

We are all very disappointed and disillusioned with the way this occasion was handled - the capitol police have made an event that should have been an inspiration for all into a depressing debacle.

Posted by: njreader1 | January 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

i was in the purple ticket line by 650am waited until 1115. After standing in a tunnel for 4 hours, we finally saw daylight and were then quietly told that all gates were closed. this event should NOT have been so oversold. i was told by a capitol worker that there were 2000 extra tickets who they knew wouldnt get in. genius.

Posted by: demlove | January 20, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The event planners should have been less greedy to show-off big crowds and paid more attention to the details. I hope these are not the same people who will help Obama run the country.

Posted by: soniasonesco | January 20, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Silver ticket holders had the same issues...

At 7:45am we joined the mob (it wasn't a line) for the Silver ticket holders--exactly where the tickets said the checkpoint would be--right on 3rd St. After about 2 hours we crossed Independence and walked right under the huge banner that said "SILVER TICKET GATE", so we knew we were in the right place. There were no police or authorities anywhere--just thousands of us right under the Silver ticket banner with no idea what was happening. By 11:15 we pushed our way out because it was apparent we weren't going anywhere and the crowd was getting frustrated.

We raced back down the mall and found a spot near the WWII Memorial where we could see a jumbrotron.

Interestingly, my neighbor, also a Silver ticket holder, arrived AFTER we did, walked down the Mall and right into the Silver ticket area. Someone looked in their bags, but no one checked their tickets. AND, they met people in that area who didn't have Silver tickets at all--they just "wandered" up there.

It's disappointing and maddening to realize that our tickets didn't matter. We were right where we were supposed to be according to the tickets & signs, yet there was no organization. We would have had a better experience had we just gone straight to the Mall and sat in front of a jumbrotron.

Posted by: bdtazo | January 20, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The number of blue ticket holders who did not get in was absolutely and unequivocally in the quadruple digits. No question.

Posted by: lolaindc | January 20, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone really surprised that an event planned and executed by the government and a bunch of politicians was disorganized and ill-prepared? Or that they would lie to you about it?

Posted by: mccxxiii | January 20, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

There is only one simple solution to all of this. Fire Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse. Accountability starts at the top, he boldly made a statement he knew to be false. One thing we've learned over the last 8 years is that we cannot have this of our leaders. He needs to be removed from his post immediately.

What were his qualifications for something like this? Did he put on horse shows too?

Welcome to DC President Obama. There are a lot of people anxious to see how you will reverse the trend of our country and put the last 8 years behind us.

Posted by: dj1123 | January 20, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I was a purple ticket holder, in the 395 tunnel for 4.5 hours, and was turned away. And no, there was no alternate entrance. And no law enforcement official or volunteer ever made an appearance - not once - to provide any guidance. It was shameful.

Rather than whine, all of you who were treated so shabbily should do something about it. Want to hit the District where it will hurt? If you are in a membership or professional organization, make sure that the good people who choose venues for your conferences know all about this fiasco. The only thing that may bring some sense of satisfaction would be knowing that this incompetence had some financial consequences.

Posted by: rodneyf_98 | January 20, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh my goodness chief Morse ...did you not see the big hole in the crowd - the area with the thin line of people in it? It's one thing to have thousands of people terribly disappointed and miss the inauguration - after five hours in line we couldn't even hear it - but it's a whole story for Cheif Morse to not grasp the situation. To read here that he believes everyone who had a ticket got in is just too much. We had blue tickets from our congressman, and we were told "blue" were the "good" tickets, and still got turned away, along with thousand of other people. There was no communication, no signage, no movement in the crowd except for to squeeze people tightly together while police drove cars and motorcycles through the crowd!!!! It was every man/woman/child for themselves. It was a national disgrace on what should have been a national celebration for us all. There were people who traveled great distances to see the historic day and were in tears when the locked the gate and said "go away the gate is now closed." People were stunned. Washington DC should ask the good people of New York how to handle a crowd ... The BIG APPLE knows how to do it right! DC Police, get with the program. How sad.

Posted by: Suzanne14 | January 20, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Awful. Totally awful. So glad Obama is in but damn. I was a blue ticket holder, stood from 7am to noon, reaching the gate only to be turned away by USCP. There was zero communications between the police and those waiting in line. Riots nearly broke out when they shut the gate. People were panicing and no police to calm them down. People without tickets made it past the gates while ticket holders were left behind. Silver holders were shuffled by USCP into blue line. Absolute madness.

It took me and my family 2 hours in line to yet those tickets yesterday...

Posted by: Aspruce | January 20, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

My friends and I had purple tickets as well. We waited on line for 5 hours until after Obama was sworn in. The capitol police chief must have been talking about a different inauguration--I along with thousands of others were denied entry.

Posted by: amw6558 | January 20, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Adding my voice to the thousands of purple ticket holders who arrived very early (in my case 6:30 am), and never made it in. Here are the questions that hopefully the Washington Post will ask and get answers to in what will come to be known as Purple Gate-gate. If Bob Woodward is available that would help.

1. How many purple tickets were issued? (The purple area on the map was pretty small, nowhere near big enough for the number of people in the purple ticket crowd.) Was this the appropriate number of tickets?
2. Why was access to the security checkpoint so limited? There was a large fence directly in front of the long line of metal detectors. If that fence had been taken down, the crowd could have moved into lines behind each of those detecters.

3. Why were there no volunteers or Capitol Police offices issuing instructions to the crowd? When I got up to the fence, there were many Cap Police officers doing basically nothing. They could have been very helpful in crowd control, or at least providing information.

4. How long will Chief Morse keep his job? To fail in a such a spectacular way is bad enough. To lie about (or be completely clueless about) what happened is inexcusable.

Posted by: Section222 | January 20, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

...Oh, and we waited in a two hour line at our congressman's office on Monday to get the coveted tickets that turned out to be worthless.
Where was the communication? We could handle being turned away, but to wonder what the Hell is going on and made to feel like we just didn't matter is too much. We saw no cops, no information, no volunteers, no porta potties, just shoulder shoulder crowds and many who were panicked. How rude.

Posted by: Suzanne14 | January 20, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

And now, it turns out that the parade route isn't fully filled. Who gave the order to shut the gates?

Follow the money! It was Big Pharma!


Posted by: bs2004 | January 20, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

We had purple tickets and just barely made it in. I know some dedicated Obama volunteers with purple tickets that did not make it. Anyone who was in the purple gate should check out the facebook group: Purple Gate - "Let Us In!"

Posted by: WUrquhart1984 | January 20, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

ditto on all.

There @ 4:45am w/11yo daughter from Philly.As much as we would have loved to be there, had to leave due to safety. We were pressed against a concrete barrier at D and First under a police camera and secret service agents atop building. They were even pointing at us (like luck at those suckers). We were in danger and there was no help for crowd control. One lady call 911 and about 2 dozen cops band armed-n-arm snaked through to the front,told some folks to get off barriers and that was it. There were about 3 people who passed out in the area. I could hear calls for medics and folks pointing to the falling. You could hear the sirins, i think only one got through. I thought to myself would the Obamas wouldn't put their children in harms way why should I.

Posted by: deltagirl | January 20, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Such a disappointment! Three purple tickets, in line before 7 a.m., and absolutely no view of the Inauguration. No possibility of even getting to a Jumbotron by the time we realized we couldn't get in. Shame on the D.C. police. The only police presence we saw was when we were directed into the tunnel, where we stood for hours. No communication, no crowd control. It's a wonder no-one was hurt. Thank heaven we had a wonderful experience at the We Are One concert. Must be the DC police weren't involved in that event. So many of us from all around the country spent thousands of dollars to be here. I'm thrilled to have Obama as our new President. I'm trying to focus on that!

Posted by: pamiam | January 20, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

An amazing moment in the purple line chaos: at about 11:00, who should come struggling through the crowd on First Street--about one foot away from me--but Jesse Jackson? He was moving against the grain, heading west. I have no idea where he was going, but he certainly wasn't getting VIP treatment! I didn't get to see the inauguration, but at least I got a nice photo of Jackson, who apparently is far from Obama's inner circle.

Posted by: lewisg | January 20, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

We also had purple tickets and were denied entrance. I didn't see anyone enter, and I was standing near some lovely women who said they had arrived at 5:45 a.m. I did see a few police - they were literally holding up a light post they were afraid would fall on the crowd. I overheard the cops saying things like "disaster" and "worse day ever". They had no instructions or information for the bewildered ticket holders. When asked where/when would purple ticket holders be admitted, one officer replied "I have no idea, I didn't plan this event"! (Although, in all fairness, I would like to commend the other officers and security personnel I encountered downtown today - they were all extremely helpful with directions and such).
I travelled from Mississippi with my son, at great expense, like all the other inauguration hopefuls. We stayed in line (or more accurately) the mob, until after 12 p.m. Obama had already been sworn in, and someone official looking announced no one be let in at that point (not that anyone had been admitted prior that!) We milled around for a while longer, hoping against all hope that the gates would miraculously open up. They never did.
I have enjoyed my trip to D.C., but seriously, to those who say we were foolish to think that a ticket would get us in, why wouldn't we think that? If I had had any idea that these tickets were worthless, I would have found a place on the mall, near a jumbotron, or stayed home and watched it on television. As it is, I missed the whole thing - couldn't hear or see a thing, and by the time we gave up hope and left, it was too late to find somewhere to watch Obama's inaugural address (it was probably almost over by then). So, I put all this time, energy, and resources into being present at the inauguration, and I'm worse off than if I had stayed home (free and warm).
I am beyond disappointed. Still happy Obama is our new President, but today was not nearly as wonderful as I imagined it would be.

Posted by: whitehead123 | January 20, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

There were an insufficient number of screeners at the blue gate preventing many with tickets from being let in despite hours of waiting. I hope that those responsible for the bad planning are not an omen of what to expect from the new administration. These ticket holders and supporters of President Obama deserved a lot better.

Posted by: RCFillmore | January 20, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

My mom, friend and I arrived in DC around 6:30am with our purple tickets expecting the gates to open at 9am. From the Judiciary Square metro stop we were directed to walk through the 3rd street tunnel around to our gate. Upon exiting the tunnel, we found the nearest event volunteer who instructed us to walk towards the gates admitting blue, silver, and orange tickets. Once we realized these instructions were incorrect we asked another volunteer who then directed us to walk back through the tunnel to the entrance closest to the Judiciary Square metro stop. Along our trek back to where we had originally come we encountered an elderly woman who also claimed to have been misdirected, walking through the tunnel and back again to reach the purple gate. By the time we made it to our destination my cell phone read 9am. I never actually saw the purple gate but stood in a jam packed line of people waiting to be admitted to the purple entrance. Unfortunately for my mom, friend and I, as well as all the other purple ticket holders waiting in line, around 10am a uniformed gentleman announced that the purple area had reached full capacity and no one else would be admitted, including those with tickets. He grudgingly told us we were welcome to try other gates to check whether they had reached maximum capacity and if they would allow us in. We attempted to wait in a line at another gate but found it to be backed up full of people as well. Slowly we began to realize if we wanted hear the and see the ceremony we would have to find a TV. Being from the Silver Spring area we hightailed it home and luckily made it just in time to watch the ceremony. The ticket debacle did not take away from my excitement but left me feeling disappointed that we were unable to experience the event live. Had we not received the tickets my expectations would not have been built up only to be let down. Despite the disappointment, I am grateful for this day to have finally come!

Posted by: ams13 | January 20, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

We were in line for the purple section by 7 a.m. in a line that did not begin to move at all until well after 9 a.m. and in which thousands of people never were able to get anywhere near the security gate entrance. Nor were we or any of the others around us ever given any information as to other gate options. That line then stopped moving at all at about 10:30 a.m. with thousands of people who had been there as long or longer than us still left out.

It appears that people who came later were permitted to cut into the line as it doubled back on itself for lack of space and that no effort was made at all to inform the big mass of people who had been waiting from 7 a.m. and earlier in the middle of the line what was going on and what options there were to avoid the complete stall.

It was the worst organized event at the purple gate that I have ever seen.

Anyone who had made any effort at all to determine what had occurred could not have believed that purple gate people had all gotten in. A huge crowd was in front of the gate shouting for faster processing beginning before 11 a.m.

People simply began giving up and leaving after 11:30 a.m. because no one was being let in and we were told no more would be let in. By the time that the decision was made to let some more people in, many had already left and many of us who had been looking for information could not get near the gate even then.

By then, it was nearly 12 p.m. already and there was no point waiting any longer.

Posted by: chatfield4 | January 20, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Chief Morse is a liar and he should be ashamed of himself and I hope the President takes his job from him. Most of the people that had purple tickets were from President Obama's own campaign staff! Very disappointing when you have worked for Obama's campaign and you can't even get in to watch your boss get sworn as President. Very depressing indeed.

Posted by: rdc036 | January 20, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Can only echo the comments posted. Four purple tickets, thousands of dollars spent on the trip of a lifetime for our two daughters (14 and 10). Thrilled Obama is President, but...no admittance, only incredible disappointment.

Many hours (way before official opening at 8am) in line (? - chaos) at 1st Avenue - scary conditions (but good people) - Mariah Carey's security people pushing through the crowd after our hours in line - no information from police. Total abdication of responsibility.

Where is the accountability?

Posted by: rtper | January 20, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

When we arrived at 600 am Police checked our purple tickets and allowed us to enter this infamous tunnel. The line never moved but seeing how thousands were in line with us and there was NO one to help guide people we followed suit down the tunnel. As we were able to get out of the tunnel at 10am there were no police, no volunteers, no event staff or secrect service. No one ever told a single person what was going on. It was like the mob of purple was forgotten. It was devastating to see all the people that came from so far and spent so much to come and see this historic moment. Only to be shunned by the entire inauguration committee. If one person would have kept everone informed this would not have had to happen.

Posted by: burnedbyPIC | January 20, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Join the Facebook Group "Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom" -- for all purple, blue or other tickets to the inauguration who braved the early morning cold (and the crowds) only to end up in the proverbial or literal Purple Tunnel of Doom. Commisserate with others who were turned away and try to find out WTF happened!??! http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?sid=feb775cc1f90609112b878b358f5cea3&gid=61444130820

Posted by: PurpleTunnelOfDoom | January 20, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I would like to just add my story because I too was upset with the statement made earlier that everyone with a ticket was let in. There were hundreds and hundreds, maybe even a thousand, blue ticket holders that never had a chance of being let in. I stood in live for four hours and never got close. There were no signs, no one coordinating the lines, no announcements or updates, nothing. We were a huge mob left in the middle of nowhere it seemed. Since there were no speakers or TVs or anything we missed out on the whole event while waiting in line. I wish someone at least could have told us the gates were closed so we could have gone somewhere else to see everything, but we just kept hoping and no one could imagine they would just leave so many people out of the event that were there early...please know that the people left out were not late comers, it was people who were there very early but just had bad luck....there were multiple lines for one gate so it was by chance if your line got in or not. I also can't believe they expected people to find these "gates" that were in the middle of nowhere when there was not a single person who seemed to know anything and there were no signs! We by luck found out gate after traveling under the tunnels...yet it still didn't matter because we still didn't get in with the gate just yards away...

Posted by: danacrudo | January 20, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

If I were from Nevada, jumped through all the hoops to get a ticket, paid for travel and lodging, and got shut out of the mall, I'd be furious.

Perhaps justhere, who wants to blame this on Obama (who wasn't even president yet) has had multiple lobotomies. One is the recommended maximum per customer.

Posted by: officermancuso | January 20, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Lots of people dressed up as empty bleachers on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

Security run amuck again???

Posted by: bs2004 | January 20, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

You want to know who was in charge of today?!?!?!?!

The Executive Director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee is Emmett Beliveau, a 32 year old "impresario" (to quote the WSJ) that was tasked with all of the inauguration ticketing and logistics. Not surprisingly, he has long-standing family connections in politics and no experience managing an event of this size (although, in all fairness, who does?).

Heck of a job, Emmie!!!

Posted by: scottdc | January 20, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

We had blue tickets and we were turned away as well. We arrived early and waited for more than three hours. I can't express my level of disappointment with the secret service and the Capitol Hill police. As mentioned in earlier posts, there was no organization. No one seemed to know the specifics of the blue line - someone should have been stationed every half block to inform ticket-holders. I cannot believe we waited for hours -- somewhere on Washington St and C St for nothing. My heart breaks for the out-of-towners who didn't know where to go once the gates closed. At least we knew how run to a place with a TV. The people near us were from Seattle and Dallas - they flew here just for this event BECAUSE they had tickets. I'm not going to drop this issue. I'm going to call my Congressman tomorrow and I'm going to call the secret service. This was just horrible, horrible, horrible.

Posted by: BWG1024 | January 20, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The crowd management at the Purple gate was appallingly incompetent. No information was given by police and they made no effort to create an orderly line that would have at least allowed those there first to get in. Some people in the crowd were chanting "Ready on Day One?". Please ask your congress people and senators to fire the Capitol Police chief. Then write to the White House.

Posted by: Richard_Payne | January 20, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I and hundreds, if not thousands, of other blue tickets holders were left outside today. The complete incompetence of those in charge of logistics and planning is staggering. You plan for 18 months, spend 100+ million dollars and bring in 50,000+ law enforcement officers and then have a basic breakdown of getting ticket holders in the gates? In the 3+ hours of standing in line, there were ZERO officials giving information or directions. There were other officers at the Orange gates standing around doing nothing. When I asked them for help, they looked at me with indifference and said that they did not know who was in charge. I pity the out-of-town people who spent hundreds of dollars traveling to DC only to be turned away.

Posted by: caphilldc1 | January 20, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

We were blue ticket holders who waited in line for 4 hours before giving up when the ceremony started. We estimated that at least 5,000 ticket holders in the blue area did not get in. It was very disappointing to see the extremely poor management of this event.

As others have stated, there were NO police, volunteers or guides providing information. The situation felt precarious at various times as crowds rushed forward, people pushed against gates, and one little boy got stepped on when he fell. Fortunately the good mood of the day prevailed and people maintained calm even when we realized there was no hope to get in.

It was heartbreaking to see people that had traveled long distances, elderly women in wheelchairs, and hardworking campaign volunteers not get in even though they had tickets. I think the Police Chief should acknowledge the mistakes that caused such a disaster and apologize to the thousands of ticketholders who felt disenfranchised by this experience. Also, the Inauguration Committee should seriously consider hiring an external firm for the next inauguration. I have seen much better security at the airport and better crowd management at sporting events.

Posted by: mkap | January 20, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Purple ticket holder here...
like most above, got there early (7 am in our case) went through the long line in the tunnel, only to emerge at 11 to chaos and no entry. We left at 11:40 within sight of the one gate (yellow?) letting folks trickle in but way out of range to make it in before it was all over. Crowd was not at all managed but, as many have pointed out, pretty calm and good natured, especially in light of the long frustrating wait.
The good side? We found a vendor w/ his van radio on tuned to a station covering the inauguration. We stopped, and soon a crowd gathered around. We listened to it, about 40 of us, and it was beautiful. There was an older African American woman (dare I guess 90 or so?) with her daughter. There was the biracial hetero couple. There was the biracial lesbian couple. There was my family of 4. We were old and young. Black and white and latino. And, despite the purple fiasco, we all were grateful to be Americans, listening to the radio, listening to history be made. And we were there. In the America we know and have great hopes for. It is a new day, and despite the DC's ineptitude, we were able to celebrate the new day.
Shout out to the vendor that turned up the volume and let us listen to our moment of history. This is a day I will never forget, and I'm sure neither will any of the 40 there around the van. Thank you.

Oh yeah, tomorrow Obama should fire Morse.

Posted by: loverocks | January 20, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

We flew in from San Diego, got to the gate at 5:00 AM and like so many were turned away with purple tickets in hand without comment. One police offer on the scene said the gate security had allowed people in without regard to ticket holding status. I am sorry that Morse said what he did, as it only makes him seem out of touch, lacking understanding or control - the essence of the situatuion at purple gate.

Posted by: mcgradym | January 20, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

There was not any crowd control on 1st and C, NW, at 10:AM or after. No one directed the crowd, or even offered any updates on whether we would get in. The only police were inside the gate -- no police officers were outside. I gave up around 11:45 AM.

Posted by: eps22 | January 20, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The group of Purple Ticket holders now known as “The 6:15 Group” recall being directed by Capital police into the Tunnel at 6:00am. We had to show them our ticket in order to enter the tunnel, which was only one block away from the purple gate. We stayed in the tunnel for 4 hours, watching thousands enter behind us. We remained in the line, diligently, patiently, and finally saw daylight at 10:00am, only to learn that the line was no longer moving. Where did all those officers go? Why was there only one policeman (in a car) on D Street between 2nd and 1st Streets? My journey ended at the fence between the purple and yellow gates, when the cannons announced the beginning of the new administration. I listened to the speech on my cell phone, thanks to a friend at home. He’s a shout out to “The 6:15 Group.”

Posted by: Darkmann | January 20, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

We were blue ticket holders who got there at 7:30 am. and by 11:15 we did NOT get in and left. the worst part of the event was that there were NO SECURITY GUARDS, NO POLICE, and NO INFORMATION for the thousands of us waiting in line. why were there 10 security guards guarding WHOLE FOODS and 15 taking pictures in front of Logan Circle, but we couldn't find ONE on the mall to give us information?
infuriating. if they had hired disneyland to control the lines, everyone would have been in, no problem! its sad to see how inept the federal government is.

Posted by: lizchap | January 20, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

We had tickets for West Standing Area-Blue. We were in line... Well, in a throng of blue ticket holders for hours and barely moved. Considering the circumstances, people were remarkably good natured and were trying to take it in stride. We heard the rumors that the metal detectors weren't working. The scary thing is that the entire time we were in line, we did not see one single police officer. Not one. It was incredibly dangerous, and it was only due to the positive spirit of the crowdt jst there was not a riot. People were just devastated, including me. There was no guidance or information whatsoever.

But Barack Obama is president and I am happy! And headed back home on the MARC train which ran very smoothly despite mass chaos at Union Station.

Posted by: nfitz10 | January 20, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

We had a fantastic experience. When we read that WMATA was running buses every 10 minutes, we decided we could go downtown after all. (We had decided not to go before to avoid the Metro crowds.) Buses streamed down Mass. Ave half empty and dropped us warm and comfortable at 17th and Rhode Island, from which we could walk easily to the mall and perch in front of a jumbotron. No lines. No hassle. It took a while to get back to the bus stop after it was over, but there was the bus, waiting for us. WMATA had great signage and folks helping you get on the right bus, there was plenty of information about how much it would cost, and the whole thing was a complete pleasure.

Posted by: fmjk | January 20, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder in line since 8am and never made it anywhere near the inside of dreaded gate blue. I came all the way from CA and had volunteered for the campaign for almost 2 years. I went to 2 states at my own expense and I have never seen anything so disorganized and chaotic. There were no police, national guards, or other officials to provide crowd control or even give basic information. It seems they dedicated all their resources to the national mall and just left the ticket holders to fend for themselves. I am phenomenally disappointed. And I have every right to be outraged because I put my feet on the pavement working for this campaign. I would have gladly watched on the national mall with everyone had I not been given a ticket. It was cruel to have us get here and not even be able to hear the swearing-in and the President's speech. It really is shameful, and I sure hope someone lets the administration know what happened to committed volunteers like myself.

Posted by: lwsf23 | January 20, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

My daughter and I had purple tickets and waited in the line, as instructed, only to find ourselves near the closed gates -- we could hear a person saying they would allow "purple ticket holders only" inside, so we continued to wait. There was very little crowd control or information, which added to the frustration of the situation. We finally left to try to find a TV to hear Obama's speech after 12:00, but ended up huddled around somebody's truck which was blasting their radio so people could hear. I was in tears, disappointed for my daughter and myself; I thought this would be a special day for us, and it will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Posted by: oyama_mama | January 20, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

My daughter and I had purple tickets and waited in the line, as instructed, only to find ourselves near the closed gates -- we could hear a person saying they would allow "purple ticket holders only" inside, so we continued to wait. There was very little crowd control or information, which added to the frustration of the situation. We finally left to try to find a TV to hear Obama's speech after 12:00, but ended up huddled around somebody's truck which was blasting their radio so people could hear. I was in tears, disappointed for my daughter and myself; I thought this would be a special day for us, and it will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Posted by: oyama_mama | January 20, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Blue Gate people, we can't let the Purple Gate folks be the only ones getting organied ... my brother set up a Facebook group with the name *Blue Gate Stories* where people can let the rest of us know how they were denied, or what sort of clever scheming or luck actually got them in the zone. We have heard from a couple people who made it in that despite all the people who were denied it was still PACKED in the Blue area, and pretty chaotic. Anyone with a Facebook account and tales to share, or photos of the chaos, please hop on and join.

For us, the total lack of coordination and complete absence of any communication were even more frustrating than the fact that we didn't make it in to our designated area. We know we could have gotten there earlier (we got in what we *thought* was the line around 8:30), but the lineup process was so mismanaged that even people who had arrived hours earlier ended up screwed.

Posted by: CrunchingsandMunchings | January 20, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

What everybody else who had a ticket above said.

I'm a former District resident who worked on both Clinton inaugurals and only flew back here from my husband's midwestern home state where we live now because someone from home who is on the Hill offered me a ticket.

This inaugural has been a "people moving" disaster for days. Like many others, I found that blue tickets were blocked early and that nobody was giving direction. I was forced to find a local television because there were no Jumbotrons for us ticket holders. My diverse group of fellow television watchers included folks who came from as far away as Colorado.

The tickets people are talking about are doled out in limited quantity to Congress so that Americans from all over the country can attend the historic national event. Most folks wouldn't make a long, expensive trip to DC without a guarantee that they will have a place at the swearing-in. We're not talking about just hopping on the Metro at Franconia.

Some of the folks who were turned away were Hill staffers, congressional relatives and the politically influential and had slept in their offices on the Hill. There will be consequences, but it won't make up for the disappointment so many clearly and rightly feel.

Posted by: cmmcd | January 20, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

When it something happens to you, it is 100% and it sucks 100%!!! It cost money, anger, time, disappointment etc. everything all have posted above is true. However, if it was 25,000 people that got screwed thats only 1.25% of the the total.

2 - million people!!!

1.) Thats 20 Super Bowls at once!!!
2.) Thats the entire population on the entire country of Slovenia.
3.) Thats the population of North/South Dakota and Alaska combined!
4.) 50 plus police departments - National Guard from 25 states, 20K volunteers.
5.) 'The Ticket' was a lottery - you had a chance -- millions didn't even get a chance! But it was simply a chance. Like buying concert/football tickets from a sketchy guy in the parking lot. If you get in great!, if not... you did your best.

You should have know this was possible, the press coverage has made it clear for weeks; "BIGGEST", 'No Room','Sold Out', 'Blocked Streets', 'Tight Security', '10,000 buses', 'Walk', 'Closed Bridges'. etc.

The true test has already passed, no loss of life! (hopefully) (The Hajj in Mecca has a little less than 2 million people yet some years 100's of people die!!!!)

You missed it but, you didn't get trampled to death!

Now go have fun, who knows who you will meet in the bar, on the street, gala, ball, Bens Chili Bowl; may be the motorcade will drive by, get out, have fun, and party like its 2009.

Posted by: georgethornton1 | January 20, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I was a silver ticket holder. The line went back to 6th and D street at 8:30. I did not get in. The line got stuck at the Hubert Humphrey Building, and people were waiving their tickets in the air saying "let us in." There was no way that all ticket holders were let in. There were thousands, yes, thousands of us that were outside waiting and waiving tickets.

I appreciate the police protection in such a large crowd, but there were no volunteers or police telling us where to go, and the police did not have enough information to help out. At 4th street, there was an alleyway where the line split up. Some people got in line there while the rest of us had been waiting for hours. Then, at 3rd and C street, the police stopped letting us walk up 3rd street. however, if we walked 100 feet, we were able to walk across it. There were non-ticketed folks being let on 3rd street there. To make matters worse, once the police decided not to let us across, they decided 10 minutes later to put up the 3 foot high metal fences only to take them down 10 minutes later. There were police officers trying to get through to 3rd and Madison, but they couldn't get through b/c too many people were on 3rd street. Somebody messed up and didn't have volunteers and barriers along the line for the silver route. I am sooo frustrated at not having been allowed in. It seems that there was all of that security, but they forgot to help out the folks that actually had the tickets.

Posted by: bsiskind81 | January 20, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

We got to the purple ticket line at 5am. We were two blocks away from the gates. Our line never moved, from 5:00 am to 10:30 am. Gates NEVER opened. (Although we were told they would shortly at 7:30.) There were throngs of people. Easily could have had a stampede. This was a real shame.

Posted by: mfcamp | January 20, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I too did not get into the Blue gate. I didn't think I would breeze in or anything, but thought that getting there before 9, as advised on the ticket, would allow enough time to get in for the ceremony. I mean- they knew how many people would have tickets and how long it would take to get in bout. I can't even imagine the disappointment and physical pain that all the elderly civil rights pioneers felt having to walk for miles, with canes and walkers, only to be turned away

Posted by: magdalene1 | January 20, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

A public safety catastrophe. No cops. No volunteers. No officials. No information. One thing sticks out for me: the vision of a purple ticket holding 10 year old girl in tears being consoled by her mother will be the most vivid for me.

The city had a real opportunity to shine and instead it showed its spectacular incompetence. Beyond a shame.

Posted by: sethpendleton | January 20, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

People weren't shut out as a matter of security or too large a crowd. They were shut out by poor planning. We has silver tickets and only could pick them up Monday between 10-2. We called the congressman's office after waiting for 2 hours on line to get into Cannon office building Monday and a staffer came out with ours and other people's.

We were told then that there would be only ONE silver entrance. One entrance for 50-60? 70 thousand? And all those people would have to get to the south side of the city, without being able to cross the Mall. I mapped out a route from my Capitol Hill condo. Once we got to Washington St. SW it was impossible to tell where we were supposed to go. People without tickets were mingled in heading to open areas of the Mall, also with out any idea how to get across C St. SW. We spent two hours waiting on 3rd St. in huge crowd. When we finally got across Independence, no one checked us for tickets as we passed under the Silver Gate. Certainly people without tickets crossed, though it seemed most people had Silver tickets there.

Once people got to the middle of Maryland Ave. SW many people just stopped. Finally having been pushed through by a surge from well behind and having navigated jersey barriers we couldn't see until we walked into them we found perhaps 30 entry check-points, mostly empty and plenty of room still in the silver-ticketed area.

As for security, the people on Maryland Ave, never were screened but some of them had the best shot straight to Obama. In 1996, the police would not let anyone stand on Maryland Ave. at 3rd street. That they allowed it this time and without screening shows security was not the problem with delayed entry to the Mall. There were barely any police trying to direct people through the streets and entry ways. Save for the civility of the crowd, it could have been very ugly..

Posted by: anon9786 | January 20, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

What a nightmare this was -- hours outside in some mess we all thought was a line. We moved half a block in four hours, with no communication from anyone, and at 11:30, I gave up and watched the swearing in on a tiny TV at Union Station with no sound. What a crushing way to "celebrate" this day -- no one was happy, everyone around us was pissed. There is no excuse for this; the District knew exactly how many tickets were given out and had plenty of time and the resources to go through every possible scenario. I'm sorry this day has turned out to be one of the worst in a long time.

Posted by: mbc613 | January 20, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Me and my family were in the purple section, we waited for 6 hours.The gates never open, no one in the purple got in. It was terrible

Posted by: mazzy1 | January 20, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder. The first problem we encountered was that there were virtually no signs direcing ticketholders where to go. The signs posted were no bigger than 11x17, and posted about 5 feet high on streetlights and traffic lights. Impossible to see from a distance.

We initially waited IN THE WRONG LINE as directed by security personnel. We finally arrived at the Blue security entrance around 10:15, and never got closer than about 50 yards. We ended up leaving at 11:20 and went to Bullfeathers so that we could at least eat and watch the ceremony on TV.

Poor performance by security personnel and the other organizers.

Posted by: chris_wiz | January 20, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

My friends and I had purple tickets and we did get in, no thanks to ANY of the officials there. There was NO direction from anyone there, despite 20+ Capitol police and secret service agents less than 10 feet away on the other side of the fence. Because there were no directions we took our best guess and got folded up into a sea of people right by the gate. I feel terrible for everyone who was stuck in the 395 tunnel, we came in from capitol hill and we couldn't even find the line, so we just jumped in where ever we could.

The crowd was PACKED, shoulder to shoulder, I could have lifted my feet off the ground without falling down, and often, the crowd would just surge and there was nothing you could do.

Once the gate opened, people were STREAMING in from the other side of the gate, but our side, the 395 side didn't move and inch. They didn't let anyone, despite our shouting and chanting. The crowd was one bad move away from a complete riot, and the Capitol police on the other side of the fence PURPOSELY kept their backs to us. THOUSANDS of people streamed in through the gate before one kind soul finally stopped and pointed to us and begged the Cops to let us in because the situation was so dire. So they finally started letting us trickle in, I have no idea how many people got left out in the cold.

The crowd could have easily turned violent, and if something had happened to someone within the crowd, there would have been NO way to get help into the mass of people. The cops were actively non-communicative. I feel terrible for everyone who didn't get in, and echo the calls for Morse's job.

Posted by: Humpy | January 20, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of the comments left. I had silver tickets and traveled from NJ to see the inauguration. I left my MD hotel at 4am, to arrive in DC at 8am. There were no directions or guidance provided by the police. I really don't understand what ticket holders were supposed to do other than to follow the masses of people wandering around. After waiting in line for over 3 hours, we finally gave up and left. We were just at the entrance of the security point, but was never given any guidance about a potential problem. If someone would have said something, we would have left sooner so that we could view it at a restaurant. I personally felt very disappointed in the entire event and doubt I would make the effort to attend another inauguration. I feel as though my time and my money was wasted!!!

Very Disappointed!

Posted by: juno2 | January 20, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I am very disappointed at the way in which the Inauguration Committee failed to prepare itself for the large numbers of people who traveled thousands of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to witness the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. I had a purple ticket to the inauguration, but was unable to witness the event due to the lack of organization and communication of the Inaugural Committee.

I was one of thousands of people who waited in line at the Purple Gate for over 5 hours, only to be locked out of one of the most important moments in our nation's history. After spending hours in the Third Street tunnel, we searched in vain for an officer or staff member to provide us with information, but found only a frazzled volunteer who had no information to give. There were no bathrooms, food or water, police, or volunteers available.

Some people have waited their entire lives for a moment like this, and to be turned away, without an explanation, with ticket in hand, is unacceptable. While the rest of the nation watched this historic event, we stood with thousands of disillusioned people on a congested street, unable to even make our way out to try to watch it on television.

I hope that something is done to address this situation. As a high school teacher in a state facing financial difficulties and potential teacher layoffs, it was a tremendous financial sacrifice to make a trip like this. It is too bad that my ticket meant nothing

Posted by: mrjocz | January 20, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Grade F!
My mother and I arrived at 3rd Street security checkpoint line at 6:30 am only to be told at 7:20 am that Silver ticket holders were being reassinged to First Street. Upon arriving at First Street, we were told that we had to go back to 3rd Street. This happened 3 times. After waiting again at 3rd Street, we were told again by DC Police at 8:20 that we would not be able to enter through 3rd Street and that the only way we would get to see the swearing in ceremony, would be to go through the 3rd Street Tunnel and give up our tickets and just go on to the Mall with the non-ticket holders. (We were told five minutes later that they were not letting anyone else onto the Mall.) We pressed on and finally found the silver ticket holder line (although there were no signs directing anyone) and waited in that line from 8:30 - 10:15 before making it into the area reserved for silver ticket holders. (This was after we had to wait for the horse trailers to pass by for 15 minutes.) However, when we got into this area, there was only ONE screen that was situated to the left of the field with two trees hanging in front of the screen, so that the view was almost completely obstructed. Literally, everyone in the silver area was lined up on the left side of the field because that was the only way you could the small unobstructed part of the screen. You would think that someone would have thought to either center the screen on the field OR at least cut all of the hanging tree limbs from in front of the screen.

The DC Police was nice, but completely unhelpful as it was apparent that the right hand did not know what the left was doing. The logistics of this was horrible. No signage, no port a johns for the people waiting in line for hours and no directions. They could not tell us how or where to exit and when we finally found our way to the Metro Station and just as we paid for a farecard, we were told that they were shutting down the train and the entire Mall. Who does that? You would think that they would keep the trains running so that you could shuttle the people out and ease the congestion on the Mall.

The only bright spot were the people, despite being deterred by the police, everyone was very calm and very nice and very much willing to offer any information they had as the police were not so helpful.

DC should be embarrassed!

Posted by: ucarter2 | January 20, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of the comments left. I had silver tickets and traveled from NJ to see the inauguration. I left my MD hotel at 4am, to arrive in DC at 8am. There were no directions or guidance provided by the police. I really don't understand what ticket holders were supposed to do other than to follow the masses of people wandering around. After waiting in line for over 3 hours, we finally gave up and left. We were just at the entrance of the security point, but was never given any guidance about a potential problem. If someone would have said something, we would have left sooner so that we could view it at a restaurant. I personally felt very disappointed in the entire event and doubt I would make the effort to attend another inauguration. I feel as though my time and my money was wasted!!!

Very Disappointed!

Posted by: juno2 | January 20, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

We had blue tickets and got in line at 8 a.m. I totally agree with others that there was no information provided, only one officer who stood up on something but never said anything to the crowd (infuriating) and inadequate barriers to keep the line in control. Because there were no barriers, people from the back walked up ahead and tried to merge, creating a huge bottleneck. It was a complete failure. We live in MD, but I feel sorry for all the people who traveled from afar--the majority of people near us. This should not have happened and we are bitterly disappointed at what should have been a joyous celebration. We'll try again at Obama's inauguration in 2013.

Posted by: joelolympian | January 20, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

After waiting 1.5 hours in line yesterday to pick up our coveted purple tickets, my husband and I slept over night in my office, sent the dog to overnight boarding and got up at the crack of frigid dawn to attend the inauguration of the first president we could be proud of for a number of years. My badly sprained ankle (dog walking debacle involving a squirrel -- long story) wasn't going to stop me!

We hobbled down to the "entrance" noted on our tickets and waited patiently for several hours shoulder-to-shoulder (and sometimes unmentionable-to-unmentionable when the completely random police cars came through) with our fellow citizens. These several hours were marked by a complete lack of information until someone came by to say "hey, there's a line down in the tunnel."

At this point we debated whether to find the line and hope to get in, or walk three miles back to the office, pick up the dog and head home where we have fancy things like heat, toilets and champagne. Champagne and the other accoutrements won!

Thank goodness we had somewhere to go. My thoughts go out to anyone who came from out of town. Please know how sorry we are that you were treated so in our town.

Posted by: xvance | January 20, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

We had blue tickets are were not able to get in. We received no information about what was going on at any point. It was frustrating, angering, and heartbreaking for us and for the thousands of others who were not able to take part in the inauguration. I'm a local, and will have other opportunities to take part in political events, but my heart goes out to all those who made the special trip from all over the country, only to be turned away at the gates.

Posted by: emeelman | January 20, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Morse says purple ticket holders didn't get in due to "overcrowding." Does anyone know if the purple section was full? And if so, was if populated by ticket-holders or gate-crashers?

As far as I know (and I was in the "purple" crowd at 1st and D), people were waiting patiently at the security gate all morning and NO ONE was let in. I don't know how he can say there was a "crush at the end."

It's very simple. Thousands of people were left in a tunnel and on the street for hours in frigid temperatures, with no information, no guidance from police, no oversight. It could have turned very, very ugly. Either Chief Morse knew this, and chose not to send police to distribute information and move people to the right places, or he had no idea it was happening. In either case, he didn't do his job, and doesn't deserve to keep it.

Posted by: trace1 | January 20, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Blue Ticket Holder.

I arrived hours early, to a chaotic line with no front, no end, and thousands of people. There were no signs, no personnel, no direction, no line-control, and no assistance of any kind. It was crazy, and certainly not the kind of organization (or lack of) you'd expect from Obama's inauguration! I waited in line for hours, the line broke, and us optomists figured they had finally opened up new security check points to let us in, but no, it was just everyone leaving the 'line' and forming a mob around the gate entrance. I finally hunted down a capitol officer and he told me to just get back in with everyone else, and yes, they were still letting people in. Someone called the CP office and was told that they would still be letting people in. Sure enough, 10 minutes later right before Biden went up to speak, they locked us out.

To those saying "what did you guys expect, 2 million people beat you!!!", we had TICKETS! I felt honored to have been given one and I was so excited to be able to see history up close. And to have that promise be torn up with their disorganization is heartbreaking.

I am appalled at how ticket holders were treated. Where were the signs? Where was the line-control? Where were the personnel to help direct us? And most importantly, where were all the security check points that should have been up to get all of those promised a spot in?????????

Posted by: jcmcinnis | January 20, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

We arrived at the silver gate (our section) at around 7:40 a.m. (gates opened at 8:00). We were directed by police into a line across Independence Avenue which ended approximately four blocks away from the gate at 4th Street and D Street, S.W. We waited in this line for about an hour, at which point it started to move. It moved about two and a half blocks, then stopped. We stood in place until around 9:30 a.m., at which point we were directed to cross Independence Avenue to the silver gate. We were stranded amongst a crush of humanity at the gate until we were informed by a group of retreating visitors that non-ticketed attendees had overrun the barriers on the Mall and filled the ticketed areas to capacity, and we were turned away. We later learned that people who arrived after 9 a.m. were allowed immediate access to the silver gate by police on the Mall side of Independence Avenue who did not know that there was a line stretching for four blocks across the street. I really feel bad for the people who traveled from other parts of the country, some of whom had worked long and hard for President Obama, and were provided tickets that were not honored at the Inauguration.

Of the 13 people that had tickets in our office, only 3 were able to attend the Inauguration. As much as today was a celebration, the execution of this event as it pertained to crowd control was a disgrace.

I understand that this was a crowd of a size rarely seen in D.C., but it was expected and there was more than enough time to prepare.

Posted by: SkyBoot | January 20, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's my silver ticket story:

I got in line (not really a line; more like a blockwide mob) where I was supposed to be on 3rd St. at 6:30 am. Five (5!) hours later we finally made it through the security checkpoint. In between, there was absolutely no crowd control, no information, no movement. It was scary watching the crowd go from excited to confused to worried to furious over the hours. By 11:30, the pushing in the crowd was getting serious and it looked like a stampede was brewing. And the few cops present just stood idly watching things get ugly. Absolutely horrible work by the Cap police, and judging by the very similar stories from other ticket lines, this sounds like a failure at the top of police management. Heads should roll after this debacle.

Posted by: harpsm | January 20, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

To the Washington Post -- thank you for covering this issue!

Posted by: dc-caphill | January 20, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I was the holder of two cursed purple tickets. We waited in line for two hours. The most potentially dangerous part was waiting in a packed underground freeway tunnel filled with people. There were no porta potties anywhere where people were waiting. The organizers are just plain LUCKY that nothing really terrible happened. We got close to the gate, only to be turned away.

I have worked on this campaign for almost two years and I wasn't able to see the Inauguration. I'm heartbroken.

Posted by: denamom | January 20, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ellapo | January 20, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

we had no luck getting into the parade even with tickets (Grey B), even 2.5 hours before. The area was "closed because it was full" - ticket or no ticket. Even worst, now the Secret Service is claiming that they never closed the parade route since it didnt reach capacity. The law enforcement people on the ground were no help at all and seemed to enjoy ticket holders frustrations as they hid behind a fence. What a fiasco!

Posted by: junk101 | January 20, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

My 2 daughters and I arrived from the Vienna metro at 5:30 a.m. We finally left the crowd at 11:40. There were still hundreds of people ahead of us waiting to pass through security. We live in Reston and were profoundly disappointed. I can not even imagine how our fellow trapped inaugural guests from further away felt. How could D.C. not have been prepared for this? They gave us so many instructions on what to do and it seems that they did not follow their own advice. They were totally unprepared for the crowds. They did not even have the decency to come out and let us know what to expect after we have been standing in line for over 6 hours! I am still in disbelief at the total lack of organization.
I know no one cares that we missed everything. I wish I knew who to talk to and express my disappointment.

Posted by: marycarla | January 20, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

To the washington Post, thank you for covering this issue, but you haven't yet covered it fully. Do some real reporting. Find out why people weren't let in. Who was in charge? Was the purple section full? Why weren't police sent to distribute information to the thousands of people waiting to get in?

Please do some real reporting on this.

Posted by: trace1 | January 20, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Aspruce: "Silver holders were shuffled by USCP into blue line. Absolute madness."

It was not at all clear what mass of people was for which gate or if all the people in the line had a ticket.

And yeah, it occurs to me that NYPD could have done this better. DCPD wasn't really there and the Capitol Police only have about 250 officers.

Posted by: anon9786 | January 20, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of what now sounds like thousands of ticket holders (mine was silver) that did not stand a chance of getting in. I expected delays, and some hassles but this was truly a utter failure in planning and crowd control. I gave up at 10:00 and was fortunate that I could make it to gathering on the Hill where I could watch. I truly felt for the people who had traveled many miles and invested in travel costs. Some one -- Capitol Hill Police, MPD, PIC -- owes these people an apology. I'm so glad I made it to the concert Sunday -- otherwise it was a joyous few days.

Posted by: caphiller | January 20, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone commented on parade ticket holders not getting in?? As predicted we could not get in at 12th street at our bleacher checkpoint after the inauguration.

We walked 5 miles home and have been watching the parade, and sure enough there are tons of empty bleacher seats. They had erected fences on Constitution and tons of police standing guard who would not let anyone in, even though we had tickets and were there at 12:30.

The PIC official release said we would have guaranteed seats, but Ticketmaster tickets said "no guaranteed seat." Would 5000 people have bought them if they had known that - proibably not. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a class action suit against Ticketmaster.

Posted by: dciscrazy | January 20, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

One further note to Chief Morse. My group of four Blue Section ticketholders did not get to see the Ceremony. So your statement is false.

Posted by: chris_wiz | January 20, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder who didn't get in. Luckily I gave up the ghost relatively early and got somewhere to watch it, which was fantastic. I just want to know, why why why did they shut down Independence? Was that really a last minute decision? That was such a bad move.

Posted by: kristenshedd | January 20, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I was a purple ticket holder. The crowd control was non-existent. People were being crushed. I saw two cops the entire time, and they did nothing. Thousands of us were turned away.
There needs to be an apology and an investigation.

Posted by: cswash | January 20, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Such sad stories - I feel bad for so many of you who traveled many miles for this event. Unfortunately this is par for the course in DC. There are more law enforcement officer per capita than probably anywhere in the country but they can't ever bother to direct traffic during a protest/motorcade/event. Most MPD and Capitol Police Officers are experts at "not my problem." It is unfortunate that our fellow citizens had to experience it first hand.

I think the problem is that there is a fundamental misapprehension about who the constituency is - for the city, mpd, capitol police, secret service and others it is those in power (or at least those with the proper credentials). Anyone else is superfluous (i.e., you and me).

Posted by: 13thandk | January 20, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

RE: To those saying "what did you guys expect, 2 million people beat you!!!", we had TICKETS!

"I PAID for those airline tickets... (I am sorry sir you have been bumped!" - "I sorry sir there is an Ice storm/Snow Storm/Hurricane")

It sucks but, depending on who your believe this is 2-3-4 times bigger than anything of its kind EVER in DC before.

Again, when it is you, it's 100 percent and it sucks.

The unemployment rate is bad; until you get laid off then it sucks!

I am sorry... I really am.... but, I guess being a 25 year dc resident... thats why I didn't go.

Posted by: georgethornton1 | January 20, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Silver ticket holders--

Please share your stories! I posted mine earlier, and judging from the view, there were thousands of you behind me & in front of me in the same situation! We might get some answers if we speak up.

To the WASHINGTON POST--please look into this and report on it. It is my hope that through your reporting we can get answers and someone (or some group) can be held accountable.

We can't change what happened today, but maybe, if this is reported, this kind of disorganization can be avoided for future events.

Posted by: bdtazo | January 20, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I had two tickets in the blue section, and waited in line for almost 3 hours. We moved approximately 50 yards the entire time, and finally gave up at 11:30 and went inside to watch it on tv. It was very disappointing.

Posted by: jm3089a | January 20, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I stood in line for over 3 hours and only moved 100 feet or so. What started as a cold yet happy morning quickly turned sour when we realized around 10:45 we weren't going to be let onto the mall. The most ridiculous part of the morning was the fact that the entire time we were in "line" (actually a mob) we saw only one policeman who did absolutely nothing and watched as people became more and more frustrated. On our way home through the 3rd Street tunnel we saw 20 plus police just hanging around 2 cars. All that the blue gate needed was 20 cops, a few well placed barricades, and a bull horn or 2 and everyone could have enjoyed this historic day.

Although I'm disappointed, I'm utterly outraged and disgusted on behalf of the visitors to our city who were trapped in the mob. I was able to go see the festivities at a nearby office, but I know for thousands of visitors there was no plan B. Hours later I'm just reminding myself that Obama is president, and ultimately that is what the day is about.

Posted by: mcalsyn | January 20, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, getting two million plus people thru security and onto the mall by noon was never realistic. Local residents are familiar with the realities of large events on the mall, as well as the hassles of post 9-11 security. That's why lots of locals stayed home this year. This year's inauguration was attended by more out of towners than is usual and they had no way to really understand what an event that large on the mall would be like.

Posted by: jt12 | January 20, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

DCiscrazy, in fairness, the Post has been writing for weeks that if you chose to watch the inauguration on the mall, you would not be able to see the parade. The parade was expecting to fill up by 10 am, and filled up at 9. Sorry this happened to you, but at least you were able to see the inauguration unlike some other ticketholders.

Posted by: jennifermb98 | January 20, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

The admission process seemed poorly organized. We had tickets to watch the inauguration and parade from the Newseum. We stood in line from 6:20am at the 14th street entrance. It took about 2 hours to get in, and then we found out that you cannot go down Pennsylvannia in the secure zone - you could only walk a couple of blocks, so we had to go back out and try reentering at 7th street. There was a huge crowd that was not moving. We went to Indiana and 6th - no admission there either. Finally quite by chance we found out that there was a separate line for the Newseum.
When inside, we saw that the stretch between 5th and 7th streets was almost empty - even in the section with seats there were just two or three people - rather embarrassing for the starting portion of the parade - and now I read that thousands of people with tickets for this area could not get in - it was certainly not because of overcrowding.

Posted by: mishas1 | January 20, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I had a silver ticket and was eventually admitted to the proper area, but only after two hours of near-chaos. I heard an official statement that people with tickets were only turned away "if their areas were too full to permit more attendees," or something like that. I was in the silver standing area, and even by the end of the ceremonies, our area could easily have held 10,000 more people. So that was completely false.

What really happened was a near-total failure of the planned screening and crowd-control procedures. And that happened because those planned procedures were nonsensical. They would never have worked even with half the crowds, and it was evident to many of us ahead of time that this would be the case. One entry point for each area? The silver area needed to admit about 100K people? Who thought that would work? And how about Metro just closing stations, and telling riders en route that they were now headed to Virginia instead of L'Enfant Plaza?

I saw incredibly well-behaved, hopeful, and deserving people who did not get the service they needed. I am sorry for the many people who did not get in - it was not their fault, it was not an accident, it was just unnecessarily ineffective planning.

Posted by: mcarrano | January 20, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I had purple tickets and got in line at 5:30 am. I also did not make it in. Here is a picture I took of the crowd of people who had purple tickets and did not make it into the purple gate, which really shows what a lie Officer Moore told when he said that everyone with a ticket got to see the inauguration.


Posted by: sparklescm | January 20, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Purple Tickets
We arrived at 5:00 AM, in the close to 6 hours we stood in the below freezing weather, losing all feeling in our feet, we maybe moved 50 feet. We got crushed by people trying to cut through our line. The gates were never opened. We never saw secret service, or police or any other authority figures. We were given no explanation or reason. We were left out in cold, and no seemed to care.

Posted by: kellerxsmithx | January 20, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

With blue tickets provided by congressperson, my daughter celebrated her 11th birthday with me by going to the inauguration of her new hero. We were among the thousands who showed up hours early, had no guidance or supervision or even adequate signs, witnessed our line turn into multiple lines and then mobs, slowly move toward the gate until, sometime around the swearing in of Biden, it was closed with no explanation except "there's no room." Rumors were that the security check had broken down and that silver ticket holders had taken over the blue space inside. Who knows. But how do I get that $25 back that I donated to the inauguration? And how do the elderly people around me who were so ingloriously turned away get back their dream of a triumphant visit to a historic event?

Posted by: tisserand | January 20, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

It is an absolute joke that thousands and thousands of people who had tickets were turned away.

I am happy that the Bush years are over and that Obama is president BUT I think that Obama looked out into the crowd and thought that somewhere all his staffers were taken care of and were there to enjoy the victory they accomplished. His staff got him elected and the purple ticket holders (almost all staff got purple tickets) were not present to enjoy the inauguration.

Someone should have made sure that all staff at least got into the ceremony. We got there early and we sacrificed more than anyone else standing in line today. We have lived and died together on the campaign trail. The Purple Gate entrance wasn't even open, what a joke. If his campaign staff was hired for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, we would not have let this happen. We organize, we don't mess things up! This is a travesty! I am heartbroken!

Posted by: derekpatriot | January 20, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Anyone interested in sending a letter to their own representatives about this issue can feel free to cut, paste, alter and personalize the text I have posted at Inaugural Ticket Debacle

Posted by: xvance | January 20, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, the link didn't come through. It's http://www.advocacyguru.com/inauguralticketdebacle.htm

Posted by: xvance | January 20, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Let me add my story, as another purple ticket holder who didn't make it in. We got to 1st & D, about a block from where the Purple entrance gate was supposed to be, around 9AM. There were no lines, no police, no volunteers, no signs, nothing -- except a giant mob. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were packed tightly against each other for blocks in each direction. (I have a couple photos to prove it!) As some others have mentioned, several times emergency vehicles forcibly pushed their way through the crowd, causing everyone to get even more pressed together. It's a near miracle no one fell and got trampled. At one point, a line of several DC MPD officers on bicycles pushed their way through. They were nice enough, but none had information about what was going on, not one stopped, and not one made an effort to try to "unpack" the crowd to make it less dangerous or otherwise provide some order. After an hour and a half of not moving AT ALL, it was clear that if we were going to see the inauguration, it wouldn't be this way. And we worried the situation could quickly become even more dangerous if the crowd began to push forward (particularly since we had an 8-year-old with us). So we somehow squeezed our way back out of the crowd the way we came, and found another screening checkpoint at around 3d and D. That one was much better organized, with lines of National Guards and several uniformed Secret Service. It took about 45 minutes to get through screening, but when we did, we discovered there was no way to get from there to the Purple entrance gate, or for that matter, anywhere with even a halfway decent view of the Capitol. (We'd hoped to go down Constitution, but metal gates and uniformed folks of all types blocked the way.) We must've asked a half dozen police, National Guards, etc. how to get to the Purple Gate and not one seemed able -- or even willing -- to try to help. So we gave up, left, and made it back just in time to watch the swearing-in on TV.
I've been a DC resident for 15 years and have been to a number of relatively big events (e.g., opening of Nats Park, July 4 on the Mall) and have never seen anything as poorly managed as this. I realize this was much bigger than any of those others, but certainly it could've been handled better. To read the Police Chief's comments suggesting that everything went smoothly and everyone with a ticket got in was infuriating. Either he's trying to put the best face on a terrible situation, or he's disappointly ignorant of what went on this morning. Of the three different groups I know with purple tickets (all of whom arrived separately from different directions), not one managed to get in. At a minimum, I hope some explanation, and an apology, is forthcoming in the next few days.

Posted by: lmf-DC | January 20, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

We waited in Purple line 4 hours and when we feared getting crushed, we worked our way out. Amazingly, we stumbled upon the Yellow gate where they let us in and we were in to watch the swearing in. However, we were lucky and our hearts go out to those who didn't get in. Getting around DC after was a bust! While Obama's slogan is YES WE CAN - the City of DC's was NO YOU CAN'T. Couldn't even get into Union station to take our train back to VA because they closed it to prepare for a ball. Can you imagine closing the hub of transportation on the busiest day of the year? It didn't ruin the day - but what an emotional rollercoaster ride!

Posted by: nancya1 | January 20, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Morse is lying.

I was among thousands or tens of thousands of Purple ticket holders who did not get in. The Purple ticket entrance never even opened. There was nobody in charge and the crowd situation was extremely dangerous.

Posted by: Larchmont10538 | January 20, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

It was a wonderful atmosphere out there today, but the planning for ticket holders did not seem to exist.
I got in a 7 block long line at 7:30 this morning for entrance to the Silver Gate. The entire 3.5 hours I was in line, there was a constant stream of people looking for the end of the sliver line behind me. The line moved very slowly and when we were with 100 yards of the gate, people that had just gotten off the metro pushed forward and the line went from 4 people wide to the entire block wide. Then people were coming back from the gate saying that the gate was closed (at 11:00 not 11:30) and no one else was getting in. At this point, I decided to leave and go back to my apartment to watch the inauguration. My son stayed and when the crowd broke down the barriers at the gate, he got in and went to the rear silver area which was quite empty.

No communication, no line control, slow security!!

Posted by: nceppjrw | January 20, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

7th and D. No movement, no information for hours. We were within 75 feet of the security gate for three hours until we left out of fear. We did have a clear view of at least a dozen officers enjoying coffee and breakfast three stories up. They chowed down for hours, joking around and laughing at the crowd as we slowly compressed under the pressure of thousands behind us. Absolutely DISGUSTING!! It was amazing that the crowd stayed so civil and patient. Check out the satellite photo on cnn...it is absolutely no wonder that this section of the Mall between 6th and 7th was so sparsely populated. There was PLENTY of room for all to enjoy. Do not let officials fool you with stories of unmanageable crowds and don't let this story go!!!

Posted by: binny143 | January 20, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

We had blue tickets, waited on line for 2 hours, then just a mass of people at gate, most did not get in, including us. No management at all. Californians: Do not vote for Senator Feinstein, head of the Inaugural. But still I am excited that Obama is President and I was there.

Posted by: ryneduren | January 20, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I waited for 3 hours at the Blue gate and did not get in. There was no crowd control and no information of any kind, besides rumors circulating within the crowd, about why there was a delay. The situation became a bit scary just before noon when people began pushing toward the front of the crowd, forcing people dangerously toward metal barriers and a fence. I do not know anyone who had a ticket to either the purple or blue sections who did get in. Today's organizational disaster is another reminder of how much work President Obama must do to get the Federal government to a state where it can perform basic functions, like lining up and security screening inauguration attendees, efficiently.

Posted by: JeffT2 | January 20, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I was a silver ticket holder in the middle of the long long line...Terrible crowd control...people cutting in at start of line...they finally let us into open space on the mall around 11:30 am so I was able to listen to and hear the entire swearing-in...why the police didn't let us in earlier and in a more orderly fashion is beyond me. My heart goes out to those ticket holders who did not get to watch.

Posted by: ridsab | January 20, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

go to see this Facebook photo album to see what the Purple ticket tunnel really looked like.


Posted by: denamom | January 20, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

"At 1:05 p.m. Capitol Police chief Phillip Morse reversed an earlier comment that all tickets were honored, saying that some did not get in. He said that people with purple tickets were especially inconvenienced."

Some did not get in? Where was this guy leading this from, his beach house? No donkey! Everyone who had a ticket that did not get in was inconvenienced!

Posted by: Kyle7 | January 20, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Truly disgraceful lack of planning and organizing considering they knew in advance the ticket numbers! Capitol Police chief Morse is an absolute liar. Many thousands of ticket holders were turned away.

I had two blue tickets care of Senator Feinstein (how ironic--the inauguration head) and we were in the huge mob before the security gates when they shut it without any notification. Security and organizers gave zero information on the entire process.

We ended up hearing about the Blue gates getting shut from people abandoning their place closer to the gates so we moved out of there as quick as we could. We ended up in the silver area near the Botanical Gardens. It looked like Silver security had completely broken down with trampled fences and no screening. It was very unfortunate for those still around the Blue gate because there was zero speakers or TV screens in that area.

So many things disastrously wrong:
1. Not enough gates and screeners for tens of thousands of ticket holders--only one small gate.
2. Lack of signage, explanation, updates and assistance from organizers.
3. Lack of crowd control. I agree with others that it was only the generosity of the crowd that it didn't turn into a riot.
4. No audio or video of the Inauguration near the entry areas.

Thank you to the Post for writing on this travesty and hope that you follow up. I urge everyone to write their Congresspeople and to write everyone on the Inaugruation Committee to tell them how horrible it was. http://inaugural.senate.gov/cmte/

Posted by: caranddriver | January 20, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Silver ticket holder arrived at 730am. Waited patiently for 2 hours in a line that moved 25 ft and then moved at a steady pace until I got up front and was told NO MORE people were being allowed in.

I don't envy the task of organizing a secure 2 million person event BUT there were clearly consistent issues across the board that could have been handled in a more professional manner.

1. There were obviously more tickets printed than there was room for people. How that mistake was made I have no idea.

2. There is this thing called SMS aka texting that could have spread important information, like this gate is closed go here instead. Every other person had a mobile device and the crowd could have been rerouted with ease.

3. Big communication gap between officers and volunteers. No one knew anything (texting again) except how to point towards a sign that read silver tickets.

I live in DC so I knew to ignore the hype and proceeded past the silver gate to the silver section at 1135am. To my surprise , there was plenty of room by the way. Made my way onto the mall and saw the event but I feel sorry for those that I met who travel from all over the country that missed it because of the poor planning and management.

By the way, tell the Barney Five on 3rd st SW to get out of his idling cop car and help people instead of threatening to arrest people for bumping into it.

Posted by: Kyle7 | January 20, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't have time to read the lengthy list of comments, but I want to note that me and 2 friends were among those who did not get in, despite arriving at our place in line @ 7:30 and holding purple tickets. We left the house with friends holding tickets for another section, and they were security screened and in their place by 9:30am. Meanwhile, we were about a mile deep into the I-395 tunnel. At about 11:00am, we had finally emerged from the tunnel and made it to within a few hundred feet of the gate, but it was clear that there was no hope of getting any further. And there were thousands of folks behind us! I'm bummed, but I live in DC and will be blocks from the Hill tomorrow at work. I especially feel for the folks who paid money and traveled here from afar. I hope some apology and restitution is offered.

Posted by: rdfrancis77 | January 20, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I am a purple ticket holder who made it in at 12:04pm - just as the canons went off. My family, including my nephew who was a paid senior staff member on the campaign, had the gates closed in their faces. The police at the gate - mostly TSA - said the reason was because it was dangerous and the crowds were surging, but the only people pushing through the crowds were the police themselves! Everyone else was acting incredibly civil, especially considering the hours of waiting in the cold with no information.

As someone who made it in, I can attest to the fact that the purple area was EMPTY. Thousands more people could easily have filled the space. Like everyone else on the site, I am deeply disappointed in the lack of organization or just plain human caring. A lot of people deserve an apology, especially the campaign staffers who toiled day in and day out for months to ensure this day would happen. They deserved to watch the man they helped to elect get sworn in. Shame on the DC police for lying to save face. No one can turn back time and allow the staffers to bask in the fruition of their hard work, but they can offer an apology.

Posted by: colzmp | January 20, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Blue ticket holder from central PA here.

Metro did its job getting us into the vicinity. TERRIBLE directions and crowd control once we got there. Evidently, we were never close to getting in. We could see the Capitol, but no sound or jumbotrons. Luckily, a crowd-mate had a radio, so we could listen and cheer at the right times. Still exciting to be there, but we'd all have been better off not having tickets and just finding a place out on the mall by a jumbotron. That's what should have been done, and someone should have made that decision. It was just impossible down there. Chaos is the only accurate word.

Posted by: GeoPa58 | January 20, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

The Capitol Police Chief is an idiot. His statement just confirms the complete failure of communication and coordination by his personnel. He should be fired for doing a poor job and then for either not knowing or lying about it.

For hours, the situation along 1st Street was truly dangerous. People were getting crushed. A few passed out from claustrophobia and panic attacks. For the most part, people kept their heads but it was a bit like standing in a giant trash compactor, with its walls closing in around you. The problem though wasn't the number of people. That was expected and could have been handled with organization and communication. The problem was that there was no organization or communication.

The only Capitol Police we saw were after we made it in after standing without movement for over four hours. The Capitol Police were inside the gate standing around or sitting on their motorcycles. For those four hours outside the gate, the Metropolitan Police Dep't was also useless. No leadership. Nothing. Didn't have a clue. Didn't try to figure anything out. Nothing suggested any planning or coordination or communication at all. Thousands of confused people stood crammed against one another for hours. The only time the MPD appeared was to yell for packed people to make way for Samuel L. Jackson or Jesse Jackson. When people yelled across the block asking for answers or asking them to help someone in distress, they did nothing. Where was a friggin' bullhorn?

If our DC law enforcement officials totally drop the ball in handling an expected number of people with weeks of prep time, how is the Nation's Capitol prepared for an actual emergency? The officials can't even get a couple block route to a ticket gate right. For hours on end, they can't even show up to try and fix the situation. I hate to say this but there is no chance whatsoever that they are prepared for something real - like an evacuation route. It is simply mind-boggling.

The officials weren't even around. Chief Morse owes thousands of people an apology. The issue is not just his responsibility in causing thousands to miss the inauguration. What bothers me most is the complete failure to have officers around to help ensure public safety. A number of good samaritans kept people from getting seriously injured today.

Posted by: stephwright | January 20, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear Washington Post,
You need to report the truth on the purple inauguration ticket problems today. Those who waited in line for 7 or more hours in freezing weather only to be turned away, have a right to know why this happened and who was responsible. My wife and I are from California and took vacation to come to the inauguration. Through great effort we were able to obtain purple tickets. We got up at 3:30 AM to ride the metro from Virginia. As instructed on the official inauguration handout included with the tickets we exited the Metro at the Judiciary Square station. We proceeded up D Ave to 1st Street where the map said the Purple security checkpoint would be. There was an orderly line forming around the corner from 1st up the sidewalk on D, so after asking a Police officer if this was the line for purple ticket holders, we took our place in line at 5:00 AM.
As the morning wore on things got progressively worse. Even though the early arrivers had formed an orderly line on the sidewalk there were no signs, barricades, or crowd control officers to maintain order. People who arrived later started to fill the street and blocked the area from the folks who arrived early. As the problem first started to get out of hand several of us flagged down a lone police officer and told him to get some resources to control the situation. The police made a couple of meager attempts with far too few officers to control the situation. At one point around 7:30 AM I approached a group of about 10 officers and asked why they weren’t doing anything to control the crowd. One of them told me they had lost control and that we were on our own. We stood in the same place until almost 11:00 AM when the crowd finally started to move. We got to within 25 feet of the security gate when they closed it at 12:10 PM. There was no surge as you reported just a complete lack of crowd control. This was not a problem with too many tickets. It was simply a case of incompetent and non-existent security and crowd control. How could those responsible for security possibly think they could process 30,000 people through one security checkpoint with two entry gates in an hour? The security check point should have been open at 7:00 AM. There were no signs to indicate where the security gate was, and no barricades or fences to keep people in an orderly line. This was not a few people failing to get in as you reported. I was there when they closed the gates and I would say most people with Purple tickets did not get in and the ones who did were not in the original line that formed through the night and early morning. I know the media is reluctant to report bad events on such a great day but the thousands of excited and angry purple ticket holders deserve to know the truth about why they missed this great event.

Posted by: adamsocb | January 20, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

We had two blue tickets. Got there at 7:45 am and were there waiting until 12:20. Never got close to getting in.

Posted by: davidwithnell | January 20, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Dear Post,

I'm writing largely to attest to the prior comment. Here is my day in brief:

I arrived from the Judiciary Square Metro at the corner of 1st and D at 5 AM, along with a lovely group: a firefighter from Memphis, a trial advocacy professor from Baltimore, a pastor from Connecticut, and many others. We stood in line without incident for several hours, despite a lack of direction or barricades. The line became increasingly inchoate as the morning progressed. The delightful and polite people seemed to grow farther and farther behind as people got off union station and join in along the edges. Many gave up in despair and headed home or to their hotels to see the inauguration on TV. I was determined to stay to try to get in or spend the hour at the outer gate.

I understand that security is of course the first concern, but there was no information communicated beyond conjecture and rumor from the crowd. I did end up getting through the gate just in time to hear the ceremony, and am grateful for that. It was largely a matter of luck, and I would say the number who left is easily in the thousands. I regret that the authorities made a system that rewarded those who gave up on civility first with the best views. I echo the concerns of the writer above, and would love to hear an official speak candidly about what planning was done by whom, and what decisions were made on the ground and why.

Posted by: RyanWarren | January 20, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I must respond to georgethornton1.
As you said you were not there. I was and the purple ticket fiasco discussed here was not a case of too large a crowd overwhelming the situation. There were no planning, signage, fencing, or police personnel to control the situation. The crowd could have easily been controlled with some fencing and 50-100 officers. I am a veteran of many large city crowd events such and the Rose Parade and the Long Beach Grand Prix. The key to crowd control is organization, controlling the situation from the beginning, and maintaining control. In this case none of those things happened, in addition, from the posts above it sounds like the Purple checkpoint did not open until after 11:00. What does the size of the crowd on the Mall have to do with getting a checkpoint open next to the Capitol? Disneyland can control a crowd of 50,000 people in a 2 acre area with nothing more than some string and bunch of teenagers waving flashlights.
Perhaps DC should hire Mickey Mouse to plan the next inauguration. 

Posted by: adamsocb | January 20, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana and was so excited to see the Inauguration! Well, I think we all were really. My boyfriend and I had our purple tickets ready to go. We were shoved into a tunnel for four hours and when we finally got out of the tunnel, it turned into a mad mob dash to the purple gates. I got pushed and shoved all over the place. People were yelling and screaming "Let us in!". I can't believe the Police Chief had the arrogance to say everyone got in. Speak out purple/blue/etc ticket holders!!!

I know a lot of people have said be glad you were there but I heard nothing, saw nothing and was completely disappointed from this trip. I took time off from work to travel up and thought if I had a ticket I would at least be able to see our President take office.

Where were the police??? Why weren't they in the tunnel to control line jumpers and growing mobs? I just can't understand this. They're lucky nothing happened in that tunnel because there would've been no response team available for it. Overall, I wish I had stayed at home and watched it on CNN. At least I wouldn't have gotten knocked to the ground as I furiously waved my hard earned purple tickets in the air.

Posted by: bayou21 | January 20, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Morse has not a clue. My band and I came in from Syracuse. We were on the metro 7am and still made it to the Blue Gate line before 9 AM even with train problems. After standing in line for almost three hours we gave up. We had been twenty feet from the "check point" but there were at least a thousand people in front of us.

The DC officers and other "helpers" had sent people in the incorrect directions.

As a terminally ill individual, it was a real disappointment to have come so far, be so close and not see anything! Shame on Morse.

Posted by: rmscott | January 20, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's my blog post about the event:


Posted by: denamom | January 20, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope they didn't issue an unlimited amount of tickets just to see how many wanted them and to use this as their way to estimate how large of crowd came to DC for the inauguaration. This certainly isn't fair to those who traveled from far distances. DC is bad enough on a normal workday, but something like this, it must have been a nightmare.

Posted by: ca67klein | January 20, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I was among those of the purple ticket having arrived at 1st Street and E about 8:45 AM to find a street filled from that point to as far as I could see toward the Mall. shortly after my arrival two and then I think three ambulances arrived trying to drive through the crowd that spanned the entire width and length of the street. Within a block they had to park. One of EMS persons told me at least 7 people needed their help with conditions from hypothermia to labor and delivery. Finally at 1st and D some DC police advised us to go left on D. We did and with another right turn arrived at what was marked as the purple gate. It was now 10:30, and we again stopped. As it neared 11:30, the published time the gates would close no one had gone in. An official on the other side of the fence advised us to show our purple tickets (only purple) and the gates opened allowing us in and to the screening that went quickly. We went toward the designated purple standing areas only to find them completely full. I ended up on some steps a little low to really see what was going on. Later I heard out space had been taken by silver ticket holders whose assigned space was on the other side of 1st street and the pool. Thanks to the calm and reasonable manner of all the people surrounding me things did not get out of hand and we rejoyced in the Inauguration of Barack Obama. I and the others around me arrived near our objective primarily through good luck -- unfortunatly it is clear that many others were not so lucky. Let's all agree to offer constructive suggestions and details of our experiences to those who can better plan for future events.

Posted by: jbryce1 | January 20, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

We were in the blue line, had tickets given by the senator's office - were so excited to witness inauguration of our new president who we supported throughout this long election. My husband is a career army officer, a decorated war veteran, was wounded in action - he felt it was his honor and duty to attend the ceremony, so when we were offered the blue tickets, we did not think twice - bought two airfares from Seattle, made hotel and car reservations, hired a babysitter to stay home with our 1-year-old twins - all of this on our very tight family budget - sacrificing time we could spend with our kids - off we flew to our nations capital... My husband wore his dress blues on inauguration day...
The rest of the story is familiar to all who posted their comments here: we were ignored, rudely, shamelessly. It was embarrassing. It really hurt me to watch my husband to be treated like dirt. We couldn't even watch the ceremony on TV or hear it on the radio - there were no place to go.
The most amazing thing about this whole story - really, nobody is going to be held responsible for this outrageous act of humiliation.

Posted by: Sunshines1976 | January 20, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Like all hosting cities or towns throughout the world, DC had its chance to shine and show the world its best. Remember the graciousness of Beijing 2008? DC, YOU FAILED MISREABLY, and most of all, will not admit your mistake. Where were your offices of uniform, your voulunteers? Would you like to know where I was- stuck in a line for 6 hours in the bitter cold with no place to go. I tried to preservere-to be resiliant to this debacle; knowing and understanding all that our new president believes in; thinking that YES WE CAN AND YES WE WILL be allowed into the PURPLE standing area.
As we stand together in unity today, our country is re-organizing and re-evaluating cost effectiveness of occupations in every area of government as well as in the private sector. I say that the Sargeant of Arms needs to have his job and the jobs of those who work for him assessed and evaluated. Its time to go. YOU FAILED THE TEST and unlike the tests in Middle School, you cannot take it again.

Posted by: sodisappointed | January 20, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Like all hosting cities or towns throughout the world, DC had its chance to shine and show the world its best. Remember the graciousness of Beijing 2008? DC, YOU FAILED MISREABLY, and most of all, will not admit your mistake. Where were your offices of uniform, your voulunteers? Would you like to know where I was- stuck in a line for 6 hours in the bitter cold with no place to go. I tried to preservere-to be resiliant to this debacle; knowing and understanding all that our new president believes in; thinking that YES WE CAN AND YES WE WILL be allowed into the PURPLE standing area.
As we stand together in unity today, our country is re-organizing and re-evaluating cost effectiveness of occupations in every area of government as well as in the private sector. I say that the Sargeant of Arms needs to have his job and the jobs of those who work for him assessed and evaluated. Its time to go. YOU FAILED THE TEST and unlike the tests in Middle School, you cannot take it again.

Posted by: sodisappointed | January 20, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Today was an incredible day and I will not not allow it to be ruined by the trauma of the Blue Gate area my group experienced. But to read the gigantic lies of Chief Morse is too insulting not to address. I came from North Carolina and my group of 3 were holding tickets to the Blue Gate. We spent hours in chaotic mobs of thousands of corralled people. I was witness to the Blue Gate that many thousands of people including myself did not get in, and it hardly mattered what time you showed up, based on everyone I spoke to, because it was such a total mess. Did I say yet that Chief Morse is a world class liar? I saw at least 5,000 or more ticket holders not get in the Blue Gate at all.

I would add to some earlier lists of glaring errors was that there were no port-o-johns anywhere to be seen so everyone was also completely stranded in that regard as well.

I am thankful that the crowd was in such peaceful, community spirit that nothing tragic occurred. It was a dangerous situation at a couple times in our area as a big group of corralled people broke free and rushed forward at about 11:40, to suddenly realize that they were absolutely, definitely not getting in.

It was certainly heartbreaking in the moment, and totally avoidable if they had even a little bit of organization in that area. There was no effort. I want them to apologize at a minimum as well, instead of insulting us further.

If you were at the Blue Gate and are on Facebook then look up the Group "Blue Gate Stories" at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46018618057

Posted by: sundownslim | January 21, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I was also a purple ticket holder who did not get in after waiting HOURS in the cold. There should have been officials directing individuals, earlier times for entry (how in the heck did they expect to get an entire section screened and in place with a 9:00 am gate openining time). I spent alot of money traveling to DC for this and was highly disappointed. It is not unreasonable to expect to get in a place when you have a ticket. This has to have been the most poorly planned event that I have ever attended. It is shameful the way we were ignored. We could have at least been told that the gate was not going to open so we could try to find a place in the mall.

I promptly contacted every Senator on the Inauguration Committee, but I know my letters will probably never be read.

I was robbed of the memory I paid to make and I am angry. We did manage to make an experience by listening to the ceremony via cell phone.

Posted by: cavan14 | January 21, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

Satellite imagery (search online for the image) shows the major screw up at the Silver Gate. If you compare the staellite image taken at 10:30 am (approx) with the map in the WP you will see how 10,000s were being led astray. The Police on the scene were of NO help, in fact they were directing people into that area of "no return".
My brother-in-law happened to make a mistake and ended up at the correct gate ... and said at 10:30 there were many open screeners!
Who is responsible? Should be fired!!!

Posted by: jgradie | January 21, 2009 4:45 AM | Report abuse

We were Blue ticket holders and I had my whole family with me.

My Mom got in. She was on a stadium shuttle and came in from the Federal Center SW side of the blue gate at about 7:30. Apparently someone opened a new line and like a new lane in the grocery store, the fastest to the new line got to start in front of those who had waited.

We, on the other hand had been redirected to Capitol South metro and came in behind the Rayburn bldg. and never had a chance. After about 4 hours without moving at all and no security personnel around, civil order broke, the back of the line simply swung to the front and ultimately, everyone just mobbed the entrance to teh security.

Some of you are missing the point.

1. there are people who traveled thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars (some life savings) on the promise of being able to be a part of the event. Not based on hope, but on the word of the U.S. Congress. When they issued a ticket they said "You will have a place in your designated area"

2. Those of us who hung tight to order and followed instructions diligently, were those who were left out.

3. Without any information, we were left with no options whatsoever to enjoy the day. We had no way of knowing we weren't going to have a place. So until 11 or 12pm, we waited. By the time we gave up on their promise, we could not make it to any good vantage point to see the proceedings.

4. Not only was it frustrating and terribly disappointing, it was dangerous. There were countless numbers of elderly and children standing in bitter cold from 6am. The lack of crowd control lead to some very tense moments as the crowd surged forward threatenting to crush those in front or against any barriers. Finally, when the police left, they did so without so much as a warning or instructions. One minute we were in line with a few officers here or there. The next there were no officers anywhere in sight and after a minute or so, the masses just stormed the gates.

The police officers know that the Chief LIED. Because they know when they were pulled off duty and what the conditions were at that time.

This is not about bellyaching by coddled few. Thousands of people were literally and figuratively left out in the cold with little or no option to experience, much less enjoy the historic moment.

To those of you who had tix. I walked up to our assigned area and it would have been really special. Just salt in the wounds I guess.

Posted by: dhoyles | January 21, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

New Jersey Silver Ticket Holder. Instead of cranking about tickets being worthless, let's remember to be grateful that the participants managed to keep it cool, just like our new leader. We were part of a historic event of monumental proportions. We met many people with a spark of hope. Perhaps they will be willing to kindle the flame of a brighter future for our country. Let us remain positive and hopeful.

Posted by: ruth49lord | January 21, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

My 12-year-old daughter and I were also denied access to the inauguration. We were purple ticket holders and rightfully took our place at the end of the line in the "Purple Tunnel of Doom" -- after 4-1/2 hours in line with no police direction, we faced two different locked gates near the Louisiana Avenue entrance. My daughter was so disappointed. Likewise, my son's boy scout and girl scout venture crew (which was supposed to provide scout volunteer service at the inauguration) was shut out of the gates at 4:30 a.m. and had no representative available to meet them or open the gate to them for so that they could perform their volunteer activities. I am a Hill employee and was disappointed at the lack of direction and entry to the inauguration -- but I know others came from across the country with their tickets, and I feel more sadness and disappointment about their situations. What happened with the ticket entry checkpoints?!

Posted by: VHolleran | January 21, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I've seen the estimates put out there by the Associate Press that "at least 1,000" ticket holders did not get in. This is so incredibly inaccurate.

The Blue Gate was my home for 5+ hours on Tuesday morning. All of these reports are accurate: No communication, No crowd control, No visible presence of law enforcement, No movement of lines which morphed into mobs.

While I had a severe sense of disappointment, I'm a local. I was more saddened to know that the proud black father next to me didn't get in with his young son, that the family from Atlanta had to admit they were in "denial" about ever getting in when they had tickets in their hand, that the Obama campaign volunteer from California couldn't see her candidate take the oath.

My story is one of disappointment, for me and especially for those who wanted to be a part of history and not a part of another congressional cluster.

Please folks, write the Inaugural Committee. At least we can hope they fix it for next time. And to the Post? Please keep asking for answers. Press for accountability. Do what all of these people can't - Get answers.

Mike Crispino

Posted by: mikecrispino | January 21, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I just want to thank everyone who has written in with their stories. This debacle needs to be covered by the media and publicly addressed immediately by the DC authorities involved.

We did not even have tickets to the inauguration, but with guests from California and Chicago, we arrived at 7th and E BEFORE 5am to wait for hours in an enormous crowd. At about 9am, an hour after the checkpoint was supposed to have opened, there was still NO communication from police for the thousands of people waiting in a giant mob to access the mall. Apparently a water main had broken, and the checkpoint NEVER opened. But by the time we learned what was going on, it was too late to enter any of the other mall checkpoints. We literally ran back down the mall as fast as we could, reaching checkpoint after checkpoint, only to be told each one had closed right before we got there.

We finally gave up and walked all the way back to U Street to watch the event on TV at a new bar called 'Next Door' by Ben's Chili Bowl. I feel extremely fortunate that we found such a warm and welcoming place to witness the historic moment after such a heartbreaking morning. But I can't help but wish at least ONE cop had been given a megaphone to communicate what was going on, where we should have redirected ourselves, and how we could have participated in person.

Posted by: ObamaLove | January 21, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I've talked to 30 or so people who went, mostly former campaign staffers, and roughly 20 of them hadn't been able to get in with purple tickets. Of those with purple tickets, most didn't get in. I would estimate there was at least 20,000 to 30,000 ticket holders who were either stuck in areas with absolutely ZERO direction given (purple tunnel of doom or first street), were turned away (despite that I know people who did get in who were never asked for their ticket), or (the smart ones) who left when they saw that the gates were closed and there was no organization and at least got to watch the inauguration live on TV.

Posted by: bcsmith42 | January 21, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The silver-ticket area on the mall was very underfilled.

One of the misconceptions that is going around is that the mall was packed and that there was no room left to fit more people in the ticketed area at the time of the swearing in. This is entirely untrue. We stood in the line-turned-mob for us silver ticket holders, but then bailed around 11 AM, after another hour of minimal movement. We made our way down C St. to 4th St. entrance onto the mall. From there, it was very easy to make our way up to both silver-ticket sections. We were surprised to see the east section, right behind the reflecting pool, relatively sparsely populated! I could have done a cartwheel during the oath! I can't believe they were saying that the mall was crowded and they couldn't let people into the mall at all. Maybe as soon as people got in from the ticketed gates they stopped moving and thus created the illusion that the mall was packed, when it really wasn't. Our friends at the Washington Monument said their area was more packed than what we experienced.

Posted by: superaura | January 21, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Being one of the thousands that were not let into the blue gate with a ticket, I'm angered with the authority in charge of this event. I waited two and a half hours, being pushed and jabbed with no way to even leave the mob/crowd. Logistics of this type of an event is not simple, but they had the power to moderate how many received tickets, and when ticket-holders would be allowed in. My heart goes out to those who traveled thousands of miles to see this historic event, based on the trust that the event staff would actually do their job... AND! after all that happened, the Capitol Police Chief had the nerve to say that all who had tickets got in. This is pathetic.

Posted by: Waldstrike12 | January 21, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

First off I would like to say it was such a moving experience to be on the mall yesterday, having a true statesman sworn in brought about waves of emotion and hope for our torn country. The only disappointment was the fact that we did not get to see a thing! Being stuck behind the purple gate, so close to the capital and not seeing anything really put a damper on the crowd. I spoke with one lady who had taken the red eye from San Francisco that very morning just to see history in the making, only to be turned away. Her eyes turned to tears after waiting there for hours only to see the gate open for 10 minutes then getting within 10 feet and having them shut so quickly as they opened. We were all disappointed, not just because we did not see or hear anything, but also because there was a complete neglect of the crowd. Why didn't anyone tell us? If we would have known we would have gone to the mall and seen the whole thing. It was the least they could do! Either way, congrats President Obama, make us proud!

Posted by: jonmcinti | January 21, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I and three others waited at first and D streets on the way to the purple gate at 1st and Constitution/Louisiana Avenues from 8:30 to after 10:30 with zero crowd movement. We all had purple tickets and the crowd stretched blocks behind us. It was not just the people in the tunnel. There was zero information provided to the crowd. The Park Police helicopter flew above multiple times and a DCFD ambulance was stationed on the block. This is like the Bush administration denying knowledge that there were people in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Posted by: Lurker7 | January 21, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

After spending hours at Washington and C street our blue line (ticket holders) got near the gates. About 11:30 or so, our extreme disappointment turned into anger we saw security personnel standing around not screening people at the Blue Gate. As we walked away we saw that the security for the orange section was packing up their equipment and leaving. There was NO communication or crowd control. The one policeman I saw was apathetic and just standing around offering nothing. One young couple had flown in from California. The crow as jovial and we made the best of it; singing, chanting, finding lost people (Marcus!!), but we missed out on something...something that drew us all there in such good spirits to begin with. What a major screw up. Next time ask Disney how to manage a line.

Posted by: ArmyWife2 | January 21, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

What a disaster the purple ticket holder line was. It is irritating that anyone would suggest that people in the line were not holding tickets. People were holding them, they were waving them in the air at times to display that they had tickets! My 10 year and I waited almost 4 hours! I have pictures and a video. This was not a few hundred people. It was thousands of people who missed out in the chance to be part of history. It was a thrill to get a ticket, however, if I didn't have a ticket I would have been on the mall. Having a ticket denied me a chance to witness the event at all, except in video.

Posted by: momof41 | January 21, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Another Purple Ticketholder story.

Just returned home to Rochester, NY. Days of anticipation, and I didn't even get to see a Jumbotron. My wife and I arrived at 7 am at First and D; saw Jesse Jackson go past (the highlight of a very bad day); helped with a medical emergency there by the blocking bus; followed someone's instructions to go up D and around to the First and Louisiana corner (9 am); there we waited and waited. We were oblivious to the tunnel debacle, but were struck still by the lack of any police presence. As the Inauguration hour approached, the very polite crowd began to be restive, but never seemed dangerous to us. Still - no urgency on the other side of the fence, no explanations, no change in the trickling rate of entry through the one screening gate. My wife got through at the last minute; I did not. Many, many others who were there longer and who had worked with dedication to make possible this day were denied.

Then I hear the Capitol police chief lies about things to the Post, tries to retract the lie by justifying the incompetence in the name of safety: make it look good, give 'em what they want to hear, don't take ownership for lack of planning, coordination or communication. The lie about overcrowding in the designated Purple area was another deceit - my wife saw much empty space at 12:00.

There were monumental errors that prevented a large, but finite and expected number of people from entering expeditiously. I add my voice to those who feel that incompetence at a high level was responsible for our disappointment. Get rid of the shortsightedness and obtuseness that produced this avoidable problem!

Posted by: dlee8 | January 21, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

To my fellow campaign staffers who got left out, that sucks. I was smart enough to NOT get a ticket. Tickets are stupid because then you're forced into a certain space. It's always better to go where there are no tickets. I ended up by the Air and Space Museum, which was a good view.

The people in the line should've walked to the back of the open seating area when it became apparent at 8 a.m. the line wasn't moving. You probably could've sat on the hill by the Washington Monument then.

As for the Capitol Police, there were errors. But there were also NO arrests in a crowd of over one million people. They did a great job, even if the management was lacking in spots. The comment about unanticipated use of "bulky winter clothing," was pretty lame. I mean it's not that hard to look up the temperature history of Washington and January and find out it can be cold.

Posted by: michael48 | January 21, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I just hope people don't use this as an excuse to be unhappy about the day. You can only do so much planning for 2 million people.

haha...if only you were that understanding of the situation in new orleans during hurricane katrina!!!

Posted by: dummypants | January 21, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I had a blue ticket and stood in a pen like cattle for 5 hours-i never even laid eyes on the mall-there were not that many blue and purple tickets to begin with and they were premium tickets. Everyday in this country there are sporting events where people, in these numbers, with tickets get in no problem. so stop with the lame excuses. This was also a dangerous situation for people getting crushed etc. and also for President Obama, because right before his inaugural they opened up the floodgates and everyone rushed in. Also, leaving 20,000 people in a tunnel underneath the capital w/no police is a ridiculous security threat to everyone.

Posted by: trishmurphy05 | January 21, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

ps...if you weren't there then shut up.

Posted by: trishmurphy05 | January 21, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Chief Morse went from Sergeant to Chief of that Department in four years.....he's never has any experience with this...whaddaya expect?

Posted by: vinnie777 | January 21, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

My Silver Story.. (I got in....)
I arrived at 4:30 a.m. It was already crowded. At 7:00 they started security. By then the crowd of ticketed and non-ticketed had merged.It was scary how many people were there. The police did their best but the crowd was unbelievable. They tried to check tickets........Many non -ticket holders just ran.......By 7:30 it seemed that the area was full. By 10 the crowd had bolted over the snow fences meant to keep people separated from the Capitol Reflecting Pool..............crazy..........Even with triple the security there was little that could be done.....I can't believe that anyone who showed after 5:30 or 6:00 had much of a chance of getting in..and it looks like that is the case.
My guess is that they need to abandon the idea of standing tickets ; just have the coveted seat tickets and leave all of the rest of the mall for the rest.....IMHO

Posted by: jlampron1 | January 21, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I was in the purple line and got in -- though we could see as we went in that people behind us were going to be in some serious trouble. Folks from where we were on up to the front had taken a really strong stance against people cutting in line, and actually formed a human wall to prevent cutting... me, my wife and others were out in the road telling people to go to the back of the line and trying to keep some semblance of order because it was clear that the police didn't have the manpower to do so. Making things worse, the Yellow line got so long that it intersected with the Purple one around 1st and C at a right angle, meaning that late arriving Purples along with a mass of unticketed folks got cut off by the Yellow line and jammed the area... so that anyone who was in the Purple Line more than say a block or so back was totally cut off by the Yellow line and this late-arriving mass. Given that some of those cut-off people had probably been there since 5:15 or so (we got there a bit before 5), that really sucks.

The gate opened at 8 a.m. and we were up to the screening checkpoint by 8:15 and then standing at the front of the area, against the fence, five minutes later. The scene inside was quiet and calm -- I really think they put all their effort into maintaining order and security inside and didn't even think about the wait outside (how else do you explain thousands of porta-potties inside and NONE outside? Four hours from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. was a looong time to wait sans porta-potty!)

Honestly, it's too bad that the people further back in the Purple line didn't pick up the "no linecutting" efforts... once our group started moving forward and made it to the area where the police were actually enforcing order, we just concentrated on getting inside and no one behind us picked up the line-control efforts -- meaning that the masses that had piled up just jammed the entire area. If the police had been there to clear things out or maybe if other line-waiters had taken up the task, the situation would have been improved.

The real problem was just a shortage of police and a lack of information. The police who were there were helpful -- multiple times, we'd call an officer over and he'd help us remove someone who was cutting in line, but he was typically the only officer we could see. Those of us who were there by 5 or so had a lot of time to watch the situation evolving and figure out the potential problems, so our front section was pretty well organized, but it rapidly became clear that it was going to be a serious mess about, oh, 200 feet back from where we were. Sorry you guys all got caught up in it!

Posted by: jbv17 | January 22, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

My Silver story (all times are approximate):

8:30am - leave my house in SW DC

9:00am - get to 3rd & Independence and realize that the massive line on my left isn't for Starbucks, it's for my gate

9:??am - find the end of the Silver line at 6th & Maryland

10:00am - somewhere on 4th or D Street, promise to turn around and go home at 11:00

11:00am - I can see the gate....just as groups of people pass us complaining that they were turned away and no one else is getting in

11:15am - the natives are restless and pushing closer, my mother won't let us leave

11:20am - We can see the Capitol! Start waving tickets and chanting "let us in"

11:35am..ish - follow the massive rush through security and onto the Mall just as the Obamas come out

Long story short, they reopened the Silver gate. When, why, or how, I'm not sure, but I found my way to just in front of 4th Street where there were a bunch of short people (I'm not kidding, but I'm one of them, so it was great for me) and plenty of room. I feel bad for the people who left, especially those who had much further than 4 blocks to go to get home.

Posted by: natalieanne1 | January 22, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

We too stood in line for more than 5 hours with purple tickets in hand having come from Cherry Hill, NJ. They never opened the gates to let us in. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. It seemed as if the were completely overwhelmed, unprepared, could not execute, or the plan was flawed. whatever the reason they spoiled the day for thousands of people....including me and my husband. If we had not made the decision to fight through the crowd to make our way to Union Station....we would not have seen President Obama take his Oath and hear his speech, albeit on a small TV in the Station Grill/Restaurant surrounded by hundreds of folk. I hope someone makes an effort to clarify what happened and why. What good did it do to have Congressional tickets? I don't blame the Congressman...but I do blame planners. We will never recapture the moment!!!!

Posted by: ladym23 | January 22, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

While the buzz is about the blue and purple ticketholders, I would like to voice my complaint about the largest ticket area: silver. My wife and two children were fortunate to obtain four silver tickets. We arrived hours early only to face a line whose screening gate started at the 3rd Street and Independence Avenue SW and ended at 6th and C Streets SW. According to GoogleMaps that equates to 3/4 of a mile. Needless to say, the line barely moved and by the time my family decided we weren’t going to get anywhere near the checkpoint, it was too late and we missed the swearing-in and inaugural speech entirely. This begs the following questions. Whose decision was it to open the gates at 9am? Did officials have enough checkpoints and enough screening area personnel? Did officials truly believe they were going to get tens of thousands of silver ticketholders through the gates in two-and-a-half hours?

Posted by: skamanbill | January 22, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I was with a small group of my high school students from Texas to see the parade. We were at 7th and D from 5:45 until 11:15. The physical pressure of the crowd pushing forward to two small gates was unreal. A woman passed out next to me and the crowd was so tight she couldn't even slump to the ground. I couldn't move my arms to answer the phone or call to find out what was going on at other gates. I was trapped against a fence with my arm being bent around it and only through the kindness of the Johnson family, that I had just met and spent 4 hours with, was I pulled to safety. Half of my students were literally pulled away from me by the force of the crowd.
If some supervisor had sent down some of the police to help supervise the crowd and establish some order all of this could have been avoided. Even if they had just told them to stop staring down at us from the windows and laughing and taking pictures as we suffered it would have been better. Almost every person in that crowd wanted to do the right thing, wanted to be there for this historic moment but we had no help and no information. How hard would it have been to get a bull horn down to the National Guard troops trying to tell us about the generator that failed? How hard would it have been to funnel people into barricaded lines so that they weren't crushed in every direction? What would it have cost to tell people that there were freely moving checkpoints at other stations? Instead we were left with rumors of shut downs and fear that we had come through all of this for nothing. That there was no violence and we all pulled together is a testament to the those people in the crowd and to the spirit of compassion that Obama has inspired.

Posted by: scottiej13 | January 22, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

We got to the blue "line" at 7:30 and waited patiently until we thought the gates were opening. The orange line was let into security across from where we were standing beginning at 8 a.m. and that line moved along. We waited and when we didn't move at all, we began to be concerned. Then tons of people started coming to the area where we had all been waiting and swarmed in to create a massive funnel of bodies. At 10:15 there was still no forward movement and just more and more people crushing in from the sides. There was no supervision, no event staff, no police and no one to tell us what was happening. We finally decided we would never make it in and bailed out to go inside the Cannon Bldg. to watch it on TV at a congressperson's office. What a fiasco! They should have known how long it would take to admit all the blue ticketholders and should have arranged for volunteers to do line management. It was quite disappointing since I had worked so hard on the campaign for so long and was happy to have received tickets. We would have been better off without the tickets and would have headed straight to the mall at 7:30 so we could have been part of the crowd. Oh, well.

Posted by: svand58 | January 22, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I traveled from Arizona for the inauguration because I had a purple ticket. Getting to Washington took me 20 hours and getting home took 16 hours. My brother, who worked for a year and a half on the campaign met me in Washington. We arrived on the mall around 7 am and found an abundance of police officers and volunteers but none of them knew ANYTHING about purple tickets. We were sent on one wild goose chase after another for nearly three hours trying to get across the mall. One officer would tell us to cross at 4th St. We'd arrive at 4th St only to be told it was closed and we should try 7th St. We would go to 7th St. and be told to go to 4th St. and on and on it went -- nobody even told us there was a tunnel until hours later. When we finally arrived at the purple gate entrance around 10 am we were heartbroken to find that there was a mob. Fairly quickly my thoughts turned from disappointment to fear however as we tried to stay upright in an increasingly frustrated and angry crowd. It was clear at that point than none of the thousands waiting at the gate were getting into the event. By the time we were able to get out of the mob, it was after 11 and all roads were closed so we weren't able to get back to the mall to at least watch on t.v. We ended up spending the inauguration sitting on a cold DC curb listening in on our cell phones to televisions that our friends had turned up at home so that we could at least hear the speech. It was such a let down that I ended up hanging up and so we completely missed this most important moment in history that we had traveled so far and worked so hard to participate in.

Posted by: vkligon | January 23, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

We took a look at the silver line about 10am and decided it was best to head to a jumbotron. We found one in front of the WW2 memorial about an hour later. Not what I had hoped for but at least got to see the live broadcast. By the way posters, how do you think our inauguration people would have done with the Katrina situation?

Posted by: whitesox1 | January 23, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

I was one of the purple ticket holders that did not get entry. I came from Alaska and of course was disappointed to have missed viewing the ceremony. I was part of the crush of humanity that occurred near 1st and “C” Streets. The reports are not exaggerated when they say it was so tight that you could not bring your arms up. I spent over four and a half hours pressed between a very nice 5’11” tall woman and an equally polite 6’4” tall man. At my vertically challenged 5’3” frame, all I saw was coat fabric.

But despite not getting past the gates and being cold, squished, and ignored for hours on end, there was still something very special about being there. I could not get over that thousands of people stood in line in discomfort, with no input or explanation as to why we were not let in, and yet I didn’t hear any complaints, angry words, shoving, or rudeness. People in my area were incredibly patient and kind. This was probably the most amazing part of the whole experience.

I don’t see a need for “compensation” for our missing this historical event. We thousands of Purple, Blue, Silver, and Tunnel of Doom survivors have made our own piece of history by what we went through. Perhaps in four years they can throw an inaugural ball just for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to get tickets to that.

Posted by: ColleenHough | January 24, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

While the press continues to talk about the blue and purple ticketholders, I would also like to complain about the largest ticket area: silver. My sister from Arkansas (who has cancer) and I were fortunate to obtain two silver tickets from our Senator, Mark Pryor. We arrived hours early only to face a line whose screening gate started at the 3rd Street and Independence Avenue SW and ended at 6th and C Streets SW. The line barely moved and by the time we got anywhere near the checkpoint, it was too late.
Whose decision was it to open the gates late at 9am (we were told 8am)? Were there enough checkpoints and enough screening area personnel? Did the PIC truly believe they were going to get tens of thousands of silver ticketholders through the gates in 2 1/2 hours?
I'm tired of reading out great it all was. It definitely was not!

Posted by: boydshield | January 25, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

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