A group of Pacific Lutheran University students and faculty attending Friday’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., came to the aid of a protester after she was punched during President Donald Trump’s speech.
The 14 PLU students were standing on the mall Friday, about a half mile from the Capitol where Trump took his oath of office.
In the crowd that surrounded them, “most people were cheering, some were booing,” said Kaitlyn Sill, an associate professor of politics and government at PLU. She and another professor are teaching a class in democracy to the 14 students.
Standing about 10 feet in front of them was a trio of women, one of whom had anti-Trump signs and would occasionally shout.
At least one person in the crowd took offense.
“Some guy just turns around and takes a swing at her,” Sill said.
Instead of hitting her, the man connected with the woman’s friend, striking her in the head.
Sill and about half the students rushed to the women. No one was injured.
“We just circled her and stood with her the rest of the event,” Sill said.
The assailant didn’t remain in the area.
“He just took off running away,” Sill said.
The woman who was the target of the attack, who said she was 44 and from Chicago, was thankful for the support from the PLU students.
“I annoyed the (crap) out of a lot of people, but I feel a lot better,” she said in a video shot moments later.
Then she gave the students a pep talk.
“You can make so much difference on your college campuses,” the woman told the students.
The students were shaken by the incident, Sill said.
“They are just confused and scared,” she said.
They also were disappointed by the way the largely pro-Trump crowd treated Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton.
“Every time her picture would come up on the screen, they would boo,” Sill said.
They also drowned out Sen. Chuck Schumer’s speech when he mentioned sexual orientation and gender identity.
Prior to the ceremony, the students had to work their way through protesters who tried to block the entrance to the reserved, ticketed area.
Sill said she’s had many conversations with friendly Trump supporters during her stay in Washington, D.C.
“But then you have the guy who turns around and punches a lady. It really hit home how divisive this is.”