Tens of thousands of people with inauguration tickets, myself included, never made it in to the ceremony. (See Washington Post, People With Purple, Silver Tickets Turned Away.)

Holding tickets for the purple gate, a couple of friends and I joined an orderly line on the sidewalk at 5:30AM, braving the 20 degree weather like soldiers. The gates were scheduled to open at 10:30AM, but we came early like everyone else, prepared to wait a few hours (or five) to see our Barack. We bought apple cider from a street vendor, and handwarmers for our mittens, though my hands and feet froze anyways, the cold seeping into my bones.

By 8:00AM, latecomers clogged the streets in disarray, ignoring the line on the sidewalk, as the crowd grew gridlocked and impassable. One slight bend from a person three paces away and the entire group bent and swayed. As the crowd grew to immense proportions, I began feeling unsafe, wondering what would happen when they finally opened the gates and folks started pouring in to the Capitol grounds. I imagined myself getting pushed, elbowed, or worse as people charged the gate. And by 9:30AM, there was not so much as a cop in sight doing crowd control.

A portly girl stepped out of line and started barking orders at a gaggle of folks in the street, claiming she had trained a group of election day volunteers who obviously weren't doing their jobs. Frustrated by people ignoring her, while outnumbered 500 to one, she shrugged and stepped back in line.

A lone police car drove slowly through the crowd at 10:00AM, a cop leaning out the window with a megaphone yelling for folks to assemble in an orderly fashion. He didn't get out to direct the crowd, or call for back up, so we all pretty much stayed put. By 11:00AM, thirty minutes after we were supposed to be let in, they still hadn't opened the gate. It stayed shut at noon, when Obama took the Oath of Office, the powers that be deciding not to open the gate in the interest of our safety.

It was surreal. A crowd stretching for miles, hands raised, waving purple tickets in the air chanting, "Let us in! Let us in!" In the same spirit that led us to Obama's side, called us to volunteer in the campaign, and moved us to travel hundreds and thousands of miles to see his inauguration. We wanted so badly to participate. To have our tickets honored. Being denied felt like a miscarriage of justice.

Standing in the streets of Washington, DC surrounded by our elected officials, monuments, and police that are supposed to protect and serve us, it became painfully clear how futile the wait for relief must have been during Hurricane Katrina. Our government just ain't cut out for handling crowds -- of either manmade or natural proportions. And it was even sadder to witness our government fail us on the very day we thought we'd finally been saved. Sad to miss seeing Barack and Michelle's faces, to yell and scream until I wept.

Many people cried for Barack that day, but I shed tears for a different reason -- because we were robbed of a privilege we paid for, fought for, and should have been entitled to receive. I stood powerless realizing that they would not let us in, as the trumpets rang out to announce a President I elected, but whose inauguration I could not witness, without so much as a video screen in sight. We missed it. Though we were there early, waiting in below freezing weather for seven hours, we missed it. And I would be lying if I didn't say how heartbroken and disappointed I am about it.

Cornel West said it best when he noted that the task of the Obama administration is to foster an America that is more in touch with its realities on the ground, with the disenfranchised and poor. The real America is one in which miscarriages of justice occur every day, every hour, every minute. I have never felt so pushed down and held bound as I did yesterday.

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