Large crowds of women, many wearing bright pink knit hats, poured into downtown Washington by bus, train and car on Saturday for a march in opposition to US President Donald Trump only a day after the Republican took office.
The Washington event was expected to be the largest of a series of marches across the world in cities including Sydney, London, Tokyo and New York to criticize the new president’s often angry, populist rhetoric.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London, Paris and other cities across the world chanting “dump Trump” in solidarity with US protesters, a day after America’s new president was inaugurated.
In London, a largely female crowd, which also had many men and children, packed a Trafalgar Square rally in solidarity with women-led demonstrations throughout the United States.
Trump has angered many liberal Americans with comments seen as demeaning to women, Mexicans and Muslims, and worried some abroad with his inaugural vow on Friday to put “America First” in his decision making.
On Friday, the nation’s capital was rocked by violent protests against the businessman-turned-politician, with black-clad anti-establishment activists smashing windows, setting vehicles on fire and fighting with riot police who responded with stun grenades.
The protests illustrated the depth of the anger in a deeply divided country that is still recovering from the scarring 2016 campaign season. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major US party.
“It’s important that our rights be respected. People have fought hard for our rights and President Trump has made it clear that he does not respect of them,” said Lexi Milani, a 41-year-old restaurant owner from Baltimore, who had ridden down in a bus with 28 friends.
“I just want people to feel empowered and go home and be active. Call your Congressman, run for office,” Milani said. “I don’t want people to feel defeated.”
Washington subway trains and platforms were packed with people. The Metro sent a service alert warning of “system-wide delays due to extremely large crowds.” At least one station was closed to new passengers because of the crowds backed up on the platform.
The Women’s March on Washington, featuring speakers, celebrity appearances and a protest walk along the National Mall, is the brainchild of Hawaiian grandmother Teresa Shook and is intended as an outlet for women and their male supporters to vent their frustration and anxiety over Trump’s victory.
Organizers said they expected several hundred thousand people to attend.
A disparate lineup of organizations including reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood, gun-control group Moms Demand Action and Emily’s List, which promotes female candidates for office, sent large contingents to the event.
Many participants wore knitted pink cat-eared “pussy” hats, a reference to Trump’s claim in the 2005 video that was made public weeks before the election that he grabbed women by the genitals.
Some Republicans have criticized feminist, gay-rights and other activist groups critical of Trump as resorting to a divisive style of “identity politics.” Democratic US representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, a supporter of the marchers, rejected that assertion.
“It is Donald Trump who singled out Muslims for a Muslim registry. It was Donald Trump who made disparaging comments about women. It was Donald Trump who criticized a judge of Mexican heritage. That’s identity politics. We’re sending the message that we’re all Americans.”
The march spotlights the fierce opposition Trump faces as he takes office, a period that is typically more of a honeymoon for a new president.
Women gave a host of reasons for marching, ranging from inspiring other women to run for office to protesting Trump’s plans to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which among other things requires health insurers to cover birth control. Jesse Carlock, 68, a psychologist from Dayton, Ohio was attending her first protest in decades.—Reuters