Whidbey residents respond to Inauguration Day

Whidbey Island residents recognized Inauguration Day in different ways.

Many Republicans said they feel optimistic and spent the day in quiet celebration. One Langley family even got the chance to watch history unfold up close and in person.

Others, however, chose to protest the new president, Donald J. Trump, though the size and location of the demonstrations illustrated the political differences across the island.

While dozens of people on South Whidbey took to the streets, two women made up a street corner protest in the heart of Oak Harbor.

MELISSA DUFFY, 59, said she felt compelled to speak out against the new president because of his “outrageous” remarks about Sen. John McCain during the 2015 Republican primary campaign.

McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner for more than five years in Hanoi.

Trump said McCain wasn’t a war hero, adding, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

“Trump crossed the line with that remark,” Duffy said. “I come from a Navy family. My father and brother are both navy aviators. For someone to say that who has never served is just unconscionable.”

Herta Kurp, 75, grew up in Germany. She stood with Duffy because she fears “any leanings toward authoritarian direction.

“I know something about power structure and things that go wrong when people are celebrating,” said Kurp, who now lives in Anacortes. “I hope American democracy is strong enough to combat it.”

THE TWO women know each other from folk dancing and a discussion group. Duffy said she only put out the word Thursday night about her idea for a protest as Trump was being sworn in as the 45th president. Trump’s remarks about illegal immigrants and Muslims also bothered her, Duffy said.

“We need more dialogue in our country. That’s what I’m hoping for,” Duffy said.

“Safety comes from knowing your neighbor, not taunting them.”

RICH BACIGALUPI, his wife, Carol Griswold, and their daughter, 13-year-old Kelsey Griswold-Bacigalupi, traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch Trump take his oath of office. They later attended two private balls, both of which included the new commander-in-chief and Vice President Mike Pence.

In text messages sent Friday morning, Rich Bacigalupi described the inauguration as “timeless, nonpartisan and peaceful.”

The family arrived at the National Mall at 6:30 a.m. top find a huge crowd.

Feeling a bit like “sardines,” they were in the “South Standing” next to a VIP walkway and watched as celebrities such as Willie Robertson of the TV series Duck Dynasty arrived. Standing nearby was Fox News journalist Ed Henry, who eventually interviewed the family, though the clip never aired.

Though lively and some destructive protests at the inauguration made national headlines, Bacigalupi described a much different atmosphere.

“Crowd is peaceful and just a bunch of everyday people. Polite,” Bacigalupi wrote. “Many wearing trump hats. All ages. As we walked here, the only negative people were the small groups of protesters with signs. But they seemed lost and weren’t saying anything. Kind of like they are here but not in spirit.”

Bacigalupi was the volunteer manager of the Island County Trump campaign.

“I think we truly are on a direction of change, and one that will benefit the entire country,” Bacigalupi said.

BACK HOME, Democrats and other Trump critics took to the streets in Freeland in protest. More than 60 people assembled at the corner of Fish Road and State Highway 525, most dressed in black and waving protest signs.

Organized by the Whidbey Island Progressives, the protest was to “affirm to the community that many living on South Whidbey do not support the installation of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of America,” according to a news release.

Environmental warrior and activist Gary Piazzon, a Coupeville resident, said he’s worried about what tomorrow will bring.

“I feel a deep distress for our future,” Piazzon said. “We’ve taken a radical turn in the wrong direction.”

“We’re not going back to the 50s,” he added.

SOME SOUTH WHIDBEY residents felt so strongly that they shuttered their businesses for the day.

“I’m blacking out my windows, and have written a five-page essay that will be going on my front door,” said John Auburn, owner of Whidbey Island Bagel Factory at Ken’s Korner.

Auburn said everyone who comes into his shop is treated with respect, no matter their race, beliefs or lifestyle. He doesn’t see the same values reflected in Trump. In fact, Auburn said he sees the president as a threat to his very way of life.

“I’m gay, and there’s a chance I could lose my rights to marry who I want to,” he said. “That’s upsetting because we’ve come so far in terms of equality.”

“I just don’t think that’s right and I had to make my stand,” he added.

IN LANGLEY, the arts and theater community participated in the Ghost Light Project, an event intended to make a statement about intolerance by shining a spotlight into the sky.

Similarly, a women’s march was set to take place in Langley at noon Friday. Afterward, at least four bus loads of Whidbey women were slated to travel to Seattle Saturday to participate in a march there.

Whidbey Republicans and Trump supporters were quiet by comparison.

Teressa Hobbs, chairwoman of the Island County Republican Party, said Thursday she wasn’t aware of any planned public celebrations or parties on the island. Those not at work would likely spend the morning watching the event on TV.

Hobbs, an Oak Harbor resident, said the sentiment among Whidbey Republicans is largely “one of relief,” primarily that Hillary Clinton did not win and “that we can undue some of the damage done by the Obama administration.”

Support for the president was not unanimous in the party, but everyone is happy Clinton lost, she said.

“Whether we supported Trump or not, we all have that in common,” Hobbs said.

She added that she’s spent the past few weeks glued to C-SPAN, paying particularly attention to Trump’s cabinet choices.

“We’re very, very impressed with Donald Trump’s nominees. I think the president elect is surrounding himself with huge talent,” she said.

LONGTIME SOUTH Whidbey Republican Rufus Rose said he believes “our civic duty is to be as cooperative as possible,” and that he doesn’t understand why people would choose not to watch something as important as the inauguration.

“It’s a big deal and a critically important event,” he said.

He called the protests “childish” and “emotional” and said they would detract from the Democrats’ potential to work with the new administration.

• Reporter Patricia Guthrie contributed to this story.

 

Melissa Duffy, left, from Oak Harbor and Herta Kurp from Anacortes, right, comprised a two-woman protest on the corner of State Route 20 and Whidbey Avenue in Oak Harbor Friday as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times