- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Checkpoint choke point: Long waits cause frustration at security station for March on Washington
Question of the Day
Tens of thousands of people gathered on Wednesday for an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, many of them waiting for hours to pass through a sole security checkpoint providing access to the Mall.
Nine metal detectors were deployed to screen the audience for the “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, causing massive bottlenecks and frustrating crowds that at times chanted angrily to speed the security process.
Thousands missed much of the event, which began at 11:30 a.m., including highly promoted appearances by actors Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker and actress and television talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Lenny Segel, 60, from Detroit, got in line at about 10:30 a.m. He entered the event just after 1 p.m. and noted the large number of older people who had to stand and wait for long periods of time.
“It was a total disaster for whoever set it up,” he said. “As great a march as this could have been, unfortunately it has become awful for a lot of people.”
Officials said temperatures in the high 80s led to heat-related illnesses and a number of people reportedly fainted. The D.C. Fire Department provided medical assistance to more than 100 people and transported seven people to hospitals. Most ailments were heat-related, department spokesman Oscar Mendez said.
Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, which operated the checkpoint, said in a statement issued during the event that the agency had encouraged people to arrive early.
“We are aware of the delays and are working diligently to process people as quickly as possible through the checkpoints,” he said.
Security personnel eventually added additional magnetometers and opened other entry points at which they conducted bag checks and operated hand-held metal detector wands.
The situation improved by the time former President Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton took the stage at about 2:30 p.m., and for the address by President Obama shortly after 3 p.m.
Once inside, the mood improved.
Thaddeus Van Ware, 78, and his sister Ruth Holst, 80, attended the 1963 march. Despite the wait, the siblings called the 2013 event a “beautiful experience.”
“I thought it was special, wonderful,” said Mr. Van Ware of Silver Spring. “It was just as pleasant.”
Ms. Holst, who lives in Columbia, Md., described the speeches as “moving.”
Nancy Lee, 74, of Fort Washington recalled the march half a century ago and said she was proud to also attend the event Wednesday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Meredith Somers is a Metro reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Humanists hit the Hill to press for 'nontheistic' chaplains
- Humanist services lacking in the military, advocates tell Congress
- Islamic State's threats on Christians used to win support of Muslims
- Humanists seek support from Congress on military chaplains
- Higher Ground: Urban Outfitters in hot water over deity duvet
Latest Blog Entries
Phillip Swarts is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covering fiscal waste, fraud and political ethics. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and previously worked as an investigative reporter for the Washington Guardian. Phillip can be reached at email@example.com.
- Christians flee Mosul after ISIL threat: Convert to Islam or die
- Ex-Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg charged with terrorism
- Chicago shooting spree: 22 people shot in 12 hours
- U.S. bests Iran to advance to the Gold Medal match at the FIVB World League Finals
- Bill Maher blames Hamas for Gaza violence: 'Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- BERMAN & MADYOON: An Iranian-Turkish reset
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Pentagon team dispatched to Ukraine amid crisis with Russia
- Ron Paul: U.S. partly to blame for Malaysia Airlines disaster
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, slams Obama's handling of Iraq
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq