Los Angeles Times

Celebration of democracy clouded by fear on eve of inauguration

WASHINGTON — When Lisa Benton-Short biked to work, before the coronavirus forced her to teach from home, she always tried to cross the National Mall near the Washington Monument. The path curves upward toward the base of the obelisk, and at the crest she can see the anchors of American democracy in almost all directions — the U.S. Capitol to the east, the Lincoln Memorial to the west and the ...

WASHINGTON — When Lisa Benton-Short biked to work, before the coronavirus forced her to teach from home, she always tried to cross the National Mall near the Washington Monument.

The path curves upward toward the base of the obelisk, and at the crest she can see the anchors of American democracy in almost all directions — the U.S. Capitol to the east, the Lincoln Memorial to the west and the White House to the north. The monument itself appears impossibly tall, dwarfing the flagpoles that encircle it.

“It’s soaring,” she said. “It always makes me feel optimistic.”

Now those rides are impossible, barred by metal fencing stretching around the National Mall and troops with rifles standing guard. The security perimeter extends throughout downtown, where once-busy streets dead-end into military checkpoints,

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