The main entrance to Union Station in Northeast Washington was mostly empty about 9:30 a.m., with only a handful of travelers walking into the front doors to catch the few trains running.
Located right on the edge of the green zone, a nearby police checkpoint blocked cars from entering Columbus Circle. Some cars and about a half-dozen cabs managed to drive up to the entrance, wrapping around from the north side of the station. But most pedestrians walked from blocks away, rolling their suitcases behind them.
Dennis Abigoe, 56, waited in the mostly deserted circle in his parked red cab.
“Nobody is here,” the cabdriver from Bowie, Md., said. “The whole place is empty.”
He had been in this same spot Jan. 6, completely unaware of the mob storming the U.S. Capitol just a few blocks away. He didn’t hear the extent of what happened until he got home and watched the news later that day.
“This is the country that the whole world is looking at,” said Abigoe, an immigrant from Ghana. “To see the whole place messed up like that, it’s a disgrace.”
He was relieved to see the law enforcement presence across the city, even if it meant fewer customers and more logistical hassles.
“Right now we are not talking about money, we are talking about security,” he said.
Rick Dibella, 67, wore a mask as he rolled his suitcase into Union Station after being dropped off by an Uber vehicle blocks away.
Dibella, a land developer in the real estate industry, was on his way to catch an Amtrak train for a business trip.
“I haven’t seen it like this since 9/11,” he said.
He remembered running around downtown Washington the Sunday after the attack on the twin towers in New York City, and not seeing a single other person on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.
“At least then you could navigate the streets,” he said. “It seemed more like a show of force than it was.”
While the roads aren’t quite as empty as that day, the law enforcement foot traffic Sunday seems even bigger, he said.
The military trucks and police checkpoints served as a constant reminder of the violent mob from Jan. 6. “How sad is it we brought this upon ourselves?” Dibella said, describing himself as a lifelong Republican who was disturbed by the direction of his political party.