WASHINGTON (AFP) – From coast to coast, Americans jubilant over Joe Biden’s presidential win on Saturday rushed into the streets, dancing, hooting, honking horns and singing on a day many had longed for after four turbulent years under United States (US) President Donald Trump.
In spontaneous outbursts after news broke of the Democrat’s win following nearly four nail-biting days of vote counting, they gathered outside the White House singing “goodbye” to Trump, celebrated outside Trump Tower in the president’s native and very Democratic New York, and danced in the streets across the country in Los Angeles.
Trump was away golfing in neighbouring Virginia when the news broke, and Biden supporters lined the streets of Washington as he returned to the White House. Trump, ever defiant, has not conceded defeat.
The Republican spent the morning tweeting inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud. But that did nothing to dampen enthusiasm in the US capital, where drivers honked horns, residents banged pots and pans, and people out in parks and hiking trails cheered and hooted.
“I’m here to celebrate,” said 24-year-old software engineer Jack Nugent as he walked to Black Lives Matter Plaza, a newly christened area near the presidential mansion that was the epicentre of protests this summer about racial injustice, on an unusually hot and sunny November day.
“I’m really happy with the outcome. It’s been so many years waiting for this day to happen.”
Many people turned out with their loved ones, friends – and even pets.
Yannh Djedjro, 32, came to BLM Plaza with his fiancee and baby daughter, said, “I think it’s amazing. People are ecstatic, everyone is happy, the people have spoken.”
Like Washington itself, the crowd was ethnically diverse and included people of all ages.
It was a moment of catharsis for many who felt marginalised under Trump, with flags from Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other social movement flying.
“I’m Venezuelan but I’ve been living here for 10 years so it means a lot for me,” said Rafael Contreras, 28.
“I think it’s a hope for a better future for this country, especially for immigrants who have been feeling for the past four years that they’re not welcome and they’ve been rejected by this country.”
Music blasted from loudspeakers, while the crowd sang in unison a song often used at protests: “Na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye!”
Many signs turned Trump’s catchphrase on the hit show The Apprentice against him, “Hey Trump…You’re Fired!”
The atmosphere stood in complete contrast to the empty streets and despondency seen four years ago, when the heavily Democratic capital overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton – but she lost to Trump.
In New York, revellers cheered in Manhattan, including hundreds gathered outside Trump Tower. In Los Angeles, drivers blared their horns and people danced in the streets.
Californians said they were proud that their senator Kamala Harris would be the first woman to become vice president, as well as the first Black person.
“That’s huge as well – personally because I’m a person of colour, and I’m an immigrant, and she’s the daughter of immigrants,” Christian Barron, 38, said from Santa Monica boulevard in West Hollywood.