Now he wants tanks. Actual Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles as part of his insane, ego-fueled, overtly partisan “Salute to America” on July 4.
This latest edict from Generalissimo Trump represents another insult to the residents of the nation’s capital, the people who live and work here, sink roots and raise families, coach Little League and organize neighborhood block parties. We didn’t vote for Trump (he won just 4 percent of the vote in the District), and we hate what he’s doing to our city.
The ever-growing grandiosity of the Holiday Tribute to Himself being orchestrated by President Trump has already stolen a precious summer weekend at a place real Washingtonians treasure — Hains Point.
It’s on a little island off the Mall. If you came here on a tour bus, you probably didn’t see it. It’s a local secret where tourists do not go. And this past weekend, no one was allowed to use it to bike or jog or fish because it is now a staging ground for Trump’s self-glorification.
For two decades, the Orellana family has gone to Hains Point, grilling marinated chicken, the older folks resting under a big sun tent, the children playing lawn games, to celebrate their summer birthdays. But on Sunday, they were locked out.
“This is a disaster. It has never happened to us,” said Ilsy Bu Orellana, as she stood by the pile of party supplies at the police barricade. It was like the shutdown of Wally World as she faced the police officer, who ultimately let her family drag a table across the police lines, so they could have their annual gathering at the side of the road.
But there was nothing the officer could do for Cristina Hernandez, a Virginia office administrator who glides along the four-mile loop along the Potomac River on inline skates, whooshing away a stressful workweek. But after getting all her gear on, she was turned back.
“I was really looking forward to it,” she said, slowly rolling back to her car.
The retirees who gather along the Washington Channel side of Hains Point to fish — more like drowning worms, gossiping and people-watching — were out of luck. So was D.C. lawyer Liz Westbrook, who cycles the loop, pounding out the miles before a triathlon, relieved to be away from traffic.
Hains Point closed a full week before the holiday to prepare for the dual fireworks displays, the Blue Angels flyover, the tanks (which the District shut down once before) and the VIP-only area of public land (evil genius stagecraft ensuring that protesters aren’t in the pictures) that is turning the city’s Fourth of July celebration into a Trumpfest.
By commandeering the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the public land surrounding it for his specially ticketed, handpicked guests and his own grandstanding, Trump is staining the nation’s platform for civil rights history, from President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy to Marian Anderson’s 1939 concert to Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic 1963 speech.
And by commandeering the people’s park in the District as the staging area for this made-for-TV spectacle, Trump is showing his ham-handed disrespect for our town.
Hains Point is as D.C. as go-go music, Ben’s Chili Bowl, mumbo sauce and hand dancing.
Even its creation speaks to the overlooked residents of the District.
The island rose from the Potomac River in the late 1800s, built up from the dredging that cleared up the foul smell and drainage problems of Washington’s marshlands. Hains Point is named for Army Maj. Gen. Peter Conover Hains, who designed the Tidal Basin.
It was the old-school cruise for an entire generation of Washingtonians, where they’d slow-circle the loop or park and shine their Acuras as the Go-Go Posse and Experience Unlimited thumped from their subwoofers. Hains Point was where Chocolate City went to recreate.
Actor and native Washingtonian Regina Hall gave the ultimate Hains Point shout-out while hosting the BET Awards last month. She quizzed her backup dancers on D.C. knowledge and threw out one who thought Hains Point was a club and dissed another performer for playing an actual drum.
“We don’t do snare drums in D.C. It’s buckets,” Hall said.
When Park Police shut down the weekend cruise in the 1990s by banning cars and offering a shuttle bus on the weekends, the epicenter of cruising moved around a bit. But the people of Washington didn’t leave Hains Point. Every weekend, it was packed. D.C. plates all around.
Even when National Harbor developers somehow spirited the iconic “Awakening” statue — the giant emerging from the earth — away from Hains Point, the people of Washington didn’t leave.
It’s near a cheap public golf course, the only outdoor putt-putt course in town, speed-walking partnerships, exercise therapy sessions, one of the oldest races for runners in the District (a race every month for 45 years) and cyclists galore.
“I bike and run at Hains once or twice a week during the summer, and I don’t remember ever seeing it closed for the Fourth. And definitely not a full week before,” triathlete Westbrook said. “There were a lot of cyclists there Sunday who seemed equally surprised and unhappy to be barred from our usual route.”
“It feels especially callous to all the DMV residents who use the park on what should be a holiday week for all of us,” Westbrook said. “Now it’s closed to those of us who actually live here, disrupting the enjoyment of our city to feed this colossal vanity project for a president who’s never even in D.C.”