Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer was quoted as saying of inauguration ticket holders: "Four to 5,000 people were discombobulated. There were another 236,000 who were very happy with the service." We survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom know that many, many more than that number were refused entrance. My best estimate from rough counts made in the tunnel is that 80% of purple ticket holders never made it through the gate, even those of us who got in line in the tunnel before 6 am at the direction of police officers. Please add your name to this petition to show Gainer that the number of unhappy people was much, much higher, and that we are outraged by the predictable, preventable travesty of this year's ticket lines. We demand that the steps listed in the letter be followed for future inaugurations so that no one in the future has their dreams crushed and sacrifices for the campaign ignored as we did on Tuesday January 20 2009. Please add your name, ticket type if you had one, and what this loss meant to you (distance traveled, connection to the Obama campaign, etc).
We the undersigned respectfully disagree with your statement that "Four to 5,000 people were discombobulated. There were another 236,000 who were very happy with the service." There were many tens of thousands of people more than that in the purple ticket line alone who were refused entrance by a locked, unattended gate, with no communication from police or other officials for hours. No one who got in line from 6 am on, perhaps even earlier, ever were allowed in. My best estimate from rough counts made in the tunnel is that this comprises at least 80% of purple ticket holders. We are outraged by the predictable, preventable travesty of this year's ticket lines and feel the lines could have been managed much better, even in the unfortunate event of a gate closure. It was luck and the amazing civility of ticket holders alone that precluded panic and mob surges that could have injured or trampled people. Please do not wait for tragedy to strike before improving the inauguration ticket queue process. We demand that these steps be followed for future inaugurations so that no one in the future has their dreams crushed and sacrifices for the campaign ignored as we did on Tuesday January 20 2009.
Future inauguration planning MUST: 1) Print only the number of tickets that correspond to a number of people that will fit in the allotted space and can get through security in the allotted time. 2) Calculate the amount of time per person needed to move through a security checkpoint and set open times for checkpoints accordingly. (By rough calculation the purple line would have needed 5 to 10 people per second to pass through security to get everyone inside within the two and a half hours allotted this year, even if things had run smoothly). 3) Have at a bare minimum one volunteer per 10,000 ticket holders outside of the gates to usher people in ticket lines and pass communication from gates back to people in line. STAFF should do this, not police; the police are needed to do their job of responding to problems and maintaining public safety. Prevent the chaos we saw in 2009 when all police left the scene of the purple ticket line. 4) Have a plan for where long lines will go and rope lines to contain them. 5) Have a plan and way to communicate to and direct people in ticket lines in the event of unexpected gate closures. 6) If logistics cannot be handled, have a smaller ticketed area and open more of the mall to the general public. 7) Apologize and express condolences to all who are shut out for reasons beyond their control.
Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.
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