‘I feel like I have to be there’: Despite violence and pandemic, one Angeleno is attending Biden’s inauguration

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Joe Biden supporters from Southern California who wanted to attend the presidential inauguration had difficult decisions to make in recent weeks. President-elect Biden has been telling people to watch virtually due to the pandemic. And the National Mall is fenced off to keep out those who have threatened violence.

Riverside resident Dr. Ivy Ewell-Eldridge and her husband bought flights to D.C. after Biden got elected, but they canceled their trip after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol building. Ewell-Eldridge is in the same Black sorority as Kamala Harris, and her husband is in a Black fraternity. 

“This was such a momentous occasion for both of us, being in Black Greek letter organizations, as African Americans, as professionals,” she says. “But after seeing what was taking place on TV, we did not feel that it was a safe place for us to be. With everything that was going on in 2020, this was not one more thing that we wanted to add on to our list of personal misfortunes.”

Instead, she plans to watch the inauguration on a big blowup screen in her backyard with her husband and kids. 

“I'll have some of my sorority sisters on Zoom so we can all watch at the same time and celebrate together,” she says. “We're still not going to miss it. This is a moment to behold.”

Despite some doubts and worries, Highland Park resident Edwin Rivera is sticking with his plan to attend the inauguration.

“As soon as I started hearing the pans ringing throughout Highland Park, my girlfriends and I immediately went online, purchased tickets, booked our stay,” he says. “We all decided that we can't allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. Despite the fact that everything's closed, despite the fact that we can't get anywhere near the National Mall, I just feel like I have to be there, in that area, just feel the energy of change.”

With a face shield and mask, Rivera plans to find a D.C. restaurant near the National Mall that’s playing it on a big screen, and watch from there.