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Black Lives Matter Plaza Crowds React To Biden Win


OK, let's turn now to a place here in Washington, D.C., where some of the divisions in this country have been starkly laid out. During protests earlier this summer, the mayor of Washington, D.C., approved the painting of a giant street painting - a giant mural, if that's the correct word. The words Black Lives Matter in giant yellow letters are on 16th Street outside of 6800 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House.

This is a place that people have gathered a number of times in recent months for protests and demonstrations. And NPR's Tom Bowman is there for us. Hey there, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Steve. How are you?

INSKEEP: OK. What have you been seeing?

BOWMAN: Well, we're seeing streams of people coming up right by the White House on 15th Street. This is festive atmosphere going on, Steve. It's almost like someone just won a World Series game. It's that kind of energy you're hearing. There are signs. One says, Trump's a loser. Another says, love is power - a lot of Black Lives Matter flags, gay pride flags as well. And everyone's really in a good mood, just kind of yelling...


BOWMAN: ...As you can just hear.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Shouting) Yeah. That's my radio. That's my radio.

INSKEEP: There we go.

BOWMAN: And some NPR supporters as well, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, that's good to know. I'm glad people approve of NPR. And they certainly have their own personal reasons to be cheering. I suppose we should mention we do not know the precise location of the president at this moment. He went to his golf club in Virginia earlier today. He was expected back at the White House at some point. Can you just describe the physical landscape down there? We know that extra fences were put up around the White House in recent days. How close can anybody get to the White House? Can they even see it?

BOWMAN: Steve, there are - more than a block away from the White House. We can see the fences from where I am. They're much taller fences - I would say about 10 feet or so. There is a larger police presence. And some of the streets are blocked off. The street I'm on, 15th Street, one block from the White House, is blocked off all the way down to Constitution, which is several blocks away. And then heading down the other way for blocks and blocks, there are police cruisers at the intersections blocking it off.

But again, this crowd is streaming down by the White House. There are families with young children. There are dogs, bicycles. There are signs. And there's really no sense of - it's, again, a festive, very festive crowd here. And then again, just a block away from us at Lafayette Square and Freedom Plaza, there are thousands and thousands of people. We can hear the music behind us just, you know, pumping along.

INSKEEP: I guess we should mention there was fear of violence. We know that in the protests over the summer, a lot of windows were broken and places looted, and a lot of people boarded up their shops in recent days. We also know, of course, that in Black Lives Matter Plaza, federal authorities attacked protesters earlier this summer. But it sounds like it's nothing like that, that everybody seems rather festive. Do the people doing security down there also seem pretty relaxed?

BOWMAN: Oh, absolutely relaxed. I can see a number of police here just kind of hanging out on the sidewalk, very relaxed. And you're right. Some of the restaurants here, the Old Ebbitt Grill, which is a famous Washington restaurant right by the White House, is boarded up. And, Steve, we also talked to some Trump supporters, a small knot of them by the Washington Monument. And most of them we talked to - again, about a half dozen or so - they said they don't think the election is over yet. They think there's massive fraud, that there has to be an investigation.


BOWMAN: But again, they were pretty positive, too. They said...

INSKEEP: And I have to stop you there, Tom Bowman, and just let you know, of course, there's no evidence of fraud, although there are court proceedings. So we'll find out if there is any evidence as we go along.

NPR's Tom Bowman is outside of Black Lives Matter Plaza here in Washington, D.C. This is Special Coverage from ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.
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