Relatively few Seattle residents will travel to Washington, D.C., to witness Donald Trump’s inauguration, but the event will be marked in the Seattle area with celebration from supporters and demonstrations and displays of mourning from opponents.
When Donald Trump is sworn Friday as the 45th president of the United States, Hossein Khorram of Bellevue will be there to watch. So will Kimball Allen of Seattle.
They’ll bring starkly contrasting moods to the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
An apartment developer and Republican fundraiser, Khorram, 56, is buoyant about witnessing Trump take the oath of office. He’s put his name in for a possible job in the administration.
“This is a year I am going to mark. It’s a year I can be proud of,” he said.
But Allen sees his own presence at the inauguration as an act of quiet defiance. He says he and his husband, Scott Wells, scored tickets to the event in October from the office of Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue. They had expected to be watching Hillary Clinton become the first female U.S. president.
“Our plan backfired,” said Allen, 34. He and Wells discussed canceling their trip, but decided it was important to attend after all — to show Republicans they’ll be vigilant against any efforts to roll back their civil rights.
“We need to be present to show that, ‘Hey, we are this gay, married couple and we live in your America too,’ ” he said. “My protest is going with my husband, sitting a few hundred yards away, surrounded by Trump-Pence supporters.”
While relatively few will actually make the trek to Washington, D.C., Trump’s inauguration will be marked throughout the Seattle area with celebration from supporters but major demonstrations and displays of mourning from opponents.
A call out by The Seattle Times on social media for people’s inauguration plans found the vast majority in the Democratic-dominated area declaring their intent to protest in the streets, wear funeral black — or turn off the TV and attempt to boycott Trump’s big day altogether.
For some, Canada beckons, as they can’t even stomach the idea of being on U.S. soil that day.
Kevin O’Keeffe, 75, of Seattle, is among those planning to spend the day across the northern border. A descendant of Irish immigrants, O’Keeffe said he’s alarmed by Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration and refugees.
“My ethnicity was an oppressed people,” he said. “I didn’t want to close the door after my grandfather came here from Ireland. Immigrants make this country great.”
Those who stick around will have no shortage of protests to choose from. On inauguration Friday and the day after, local activists and Seattle officials are planning dozens of marches, rallies and other events, including a benefit run for Planned Parenthood and a legal clinic for immigrants at Seattle Center.
For their part, local Republican officials said they’re not planning any major inaugural watch events. Top party leaders, including state GOP Chairman Susan Hutchison, will be in Washington for the inauguration.
Some state residents plan to fly to D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, an event organizers predict will draw hundreds of thousands of participants to challenge Trump’s administration and call attention to minority and immigrant rights. A similar march is planned the same day in Seattle.
Theresa Trebon, 60, of Sedro-Woolley, plans to be at the women’s march in the nation’s capital. A Swinomish Tribe employee, she said she wants to send a message of opposition to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as show resistance to Trump’s denigration of women and other groups.
“I just hope it sends a really clear signal to him and his administration that people are not just going to sit there and pretend this is the new normal,” she said.
Some Seattle activists will take the opportunity to expand a growing movement of Neighborhood Action Councils aiming to protect immigrants and other communities feeling threatened by the incoming Trump administration.
That movement began on election night, when Kaya Axelsson, 24, and Ximena Velázquez-Arenas, 26, unable to sleep and feeling dispirited, put out a call for action on Facebook. Within a few days, they had 1,000 people show up at an initial meeting in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
“What that communicated to us is that we touched into something very raw, very powerful, that Seattle is feeling,” said Velázquez-Arenas.
Since then, the movement has grown to include councils in all seven Seattle City Council districts.
Organizers of the councils say they’ll fan out to inauguration-week events across the city, wearing distinctive armbands to identify themselves and attract more supporters.
Trump backers say the hand-wringing from Seattle liberals is misguided.
“I think he’s going to astound people. I think four years from now he is going to be more popular and he’s going to lead from the center,” said Peter Gigante, 53, a Bellingham businessman and donor to Trump’s campaign who is headed to the inauguration ceremony and official ball.
After working for years in international trade, including living for eight years in China, Gigante agrees with Trump’s view that the U.S. has been harming its own workers with weak trade deals and porous borders.
“He will be proven over time,” Gigante predicted, pointing to Trump’s intent to secure the border and negotiate new trade deals.
Khorram is an immigrant — his family fled Iran as refugees in the 1970s after the revolution by Islamists deposed the Shah. But he backs Trump’s plans to cut off the flow of refugees from Syria and other war-torn regions.
“My heart goes out to them,” said Khorram, who was a GOP delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer. “But we need to protect America first.”
Like many supporters, Khorram says America is fed up with “political correctness” and brushes off Trump’s record of inflammatory and false statements. “Trump is not a career politician. He’s got the heart and he’s got the will to make America a better place,” he said.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party, said she hopes the city and nation rise up in opposition to Trump.
“I think it’s very important for ordinary working people, young people, everyone who has a vision for a society free of racism, sexism and hatred against immigrants to be protesting on inauguration weekend,” said Sawant, who will be speaking at rallies in Seattle on Friday and participating in the national women’s march the next day.
Allen, headed to a much different inauguration than he expected, said some of his liberal Seattle acquaintances oppose any participation in Trump’s swearing-in. He disagrees.
“That’s like putting your head in the sand. This is a reality check,” he said.