For Christmas, Gavin Miller (right) asked his mom to take him to the presidential inauguration. Here, he stands in front of the US Capitol with the friend he brought along.

For Christmas, Gavin Miller, right, asked his mom to take him to the presidential inauguration. He came to the steps of the US Capitol with a friend to see Donald Trump sworn in as president.

Credit:

Isis Madrid/PRI

People trickled onto the National Mall before sunset Thursday, many wearing red hats, stopping for photos at a fenced area with a clear view of the Capitol Building to the east and the Washington Monument to the west.

A young, bearded man holding a sign that said "Not my president" stepped up on a barrier wall.

The loose crowd burst into boos and cheers, almost by command. Some of them started bickering. Insulting each other.

And an eager boy in a black suit — and a red hat — called on his mom to look at the commotion.

"That's all right," she said calmly. "He's got a right to protest. That's why we live in a free country."

Brandy Miller had arrived in Washington, DC, just hours earlier. She had come from Atlanta so her 11-year-old son Gavin could collect his Christmas present: to be at Donald Trump's presidential inauguration.

"[Gavin and his friend] had planned on starting their own little business to raise money to come up here on their own and ride a bus up," Miller said. "Gavin made over 300 phone calls for Donald Trump's campaign — at 11 years old. He just took it upon himself to be part of [Trump]'s movement."

It was TV news that got him hooked on politics. His motivation to stump for Trump motivated a lot of Trump supporters: Stop Hillary Clinton.

"I had seen on the news what it had come to, and what Hillary has done, and I just thought we need to do everything we can to stop her from getting into office," Gavin said.

His mom said Gavin followed Trump on Twitter, but he also followed Clinton, to learn about the opposing arguments. She said he formed his own opinions.

As he was walking past the Capitol, Gavin was telling his mother about having a strong military so we could defend ourselves. During the interview he said immigration was the issue Trump won him over on.

"We have way too many illegal immigrants," Gavin said, "and they are not paying taxes, and it's just not right. We need to reform the immigration process."

(For the record, undocumented immigrants living in the US pay about $12 million in taxes each year.)

Gavin's voice could animate a PBS Kids' character. He poses happily for passersby and answers questions with "Yes, ma'am." His Make America Great Again hat was signed by Newt and Callista Gingrich at a Georgia event.

Gavin made it to DC on inauguration eve with his mom and his friend Parker, whom he "roped in" to volunteering for Trump, and Parker's mother. The two women were strolling the mall with the boys, smiling and chatting with anyone who asked about the kids' inauguration excitement.

Gavin's mother is a Trump supporter because she believes he will fix the country's economy.

She doesn't think Trump's comments and promises about marginalized groups will materialize. She admits she hasn't liked some of his rhetoric about women. But she wants to see more jobs for American workers, and thinks he's the man for that.

For the record, Gavin has some criticism of Trump, too.

"He claimed that he would 'drain the swamp' and he's getting people from Goldman Sachs, and I do kind of agree with the criticism," he says. In the end, though, he adds "they are the best candidates for the job."

He says he'll probably be a politician some day. (His mom smiled at that.)

Anger and scorn filled the walkway outside the Capitol, even in that sparse early evening crowd. Brandy Miller was one of the few people there just agreeing to disagree with others — and teaching her son to do the same.

"As long as it's peaceful, and they don't hurt anybody, I'm fine with anybody who wants to protest," Miller said. "They spent their money to come up here just like I spent my money to come up here. They have the right to do it."

At the Capitol area Thursday evening, discord was simply people hurling insults. But later that night riot police pepper-sprayed aggressive protesters at an event near the White House. Friday, Trump becomes president. And in DC, mostly everyone felt strongly about that.

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