WASHINGTON — Two hours after President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration, a couple hugged and kissed beneath sunlit campaign flags blowing in the January wind a few blocks from the White House. A militarized security buildup kept them a two-mile walk from the U.S. Capitol, where Lady Gaga sang and Biden swore his oath.

Anastasia Vakula, a model, zoomed on a motorized skateboard while her partner David Tafuri shot a video keepsake of her. Tafuri, a partner in an international law firm, rode a scooter. He hoisted her 5’8″ frame in the air. She threw her arms up in celebration.

“We are as close as we can get and as happy as we can be,” Vakula told Zenger News. “There are too many reasons to be dancing.” The pair stood on the giant letter “R” at the end of the words BLACK LIVES MATTER, painted in yellow on the D.C. pavement.

A view of Black Lives Matter Plaza, a popular protest spot 2 blocks north of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2020. (Kaitlin Newman/Zenger News)
A Joe Biden presidential campaign flag waves in the breeze in Black Lives Matter Plaza on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.(Kaitlin Newman/Zenger News)
A woman paints a message to “Joe” and “Kamala” in Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021. (Kaitlin Newman/Zenger News)

A National Guard deployment and bridge, road, and public transit closures left most of downtown Washington’s streets empty. The public stayed out of the January chill, watching on TV or streaming on the Internet.

One woman sat on the ground in Black Lives Matter Plaza, painting a message of love to “Joe and Kamala,” a reference to Biden and Vice President Kamala D. Harris.

It was a mild exhibit among signs that read “Stop Pretending Your Racism is Patriotism” and “SEDITION: When You’re White They Let You Do it.” That was a reference to then-President Donald J. Trump’s infamous boast that women “let” famous men like him get away with sexual misconduct.

A protester from Baltimore, Md. wore a giant Trump head to Black Lives Matter Plaza on Election Night, November 3, 2020. (Kaitlin Newman/Zenger News)
A masked protester stood in Black Lives Matter Plaza holding a Biden flag on Election Night in Washington, D.C., November 3, 2020. (Kaitlin Newman/Zenger News)

This same plaza was the site of protests 11 weeks earlier on Nov. 3, 2020 as polls closed and results poured in across the nation. Trump detractors erupted in anger over the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

In the tense atmosphere that Election Night, two Americas continued the daylong, coast-to-coast clash. On Inauguration Day, two lovers embraced.

(Edited by Claire Swift, Kristen Butler and David Martosko)

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