By Jaime Franchi, Spencer Rumsey & Christopher Twarowski
Millions of people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and cities and towns across the country Saturday as parts of a Women’s March to have their voices heard by the new Trump administration on a wide range of issues, centered on the main message of women’s rights.
The “Women’s March On Washington,” with “Sister Marches” throughout the nation, poured into metropolises and towns a day after billionaire real estate mogul-turned reality TV star Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States—the oldest and wealthiest incoming commander-in-chief ever, and the first from New York in 72 years.
An estimated half a million people crowded The Mall in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas amid their march past the White House, which reportedly, due to its sheer size, could only be accomplished by spilling through side streets not on its officially planned route. Similar situations arising from greater-than-anticipated numbers of participants also occurred in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. Dozens of associated marches also took place in cities around the world, including Berlin, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Melbourne, Australia.
On Long Island, hordes of protestors carrying signs with various messages and slogans lined Long Island Rail Road stations throughout the morning, eager to join the tens of thousands already demonstrating in Manhattan, where seas of participants flowed from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, south on 2nd Avenue to 42nd Street, then west along 42nd to 5th Avenue and Trump Tower. Streets and avenues not on the official “Women’s March” route were also congested with demonstrators.
Several hundred protestors gathered along 347 in Port Jefferson Station, hoisting banners and shouting messages, such as “Long Island Rising,” “Don’t Tread On Me” and “On 11-8 America Lost!” as motorists passing by in cars honked and cheered in support.
Despite the historic numbers, there hadn’t been reports of mass arrests or violent disturbances as of late Saturday afternoon, with one NYPD officer along the march route telling a Press reporter it’d so far been “the most peaceful march in 16 years.” In contrast, the majority of more than 200 people arrested on Inauguration Day Friday—with an attendance potentially dwarfed by the Women’s March turnout—will be charged with felony rioting charges, the AP reported Saturday.
Among the tens of thousands pouring through New York City, messages spanned the gamut, with many rallying against misogyny, racism, and hatred—themes some said they felt dominated then-Republican presidential candidate, now-President Trump’s vitriolic campaign, and have set the tone for the long four years of his administration.
Several women interviewed by the Press along the route said they believed that women had fallen into a state of complacency under the Obama administration, especially in light of his passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and with Vice President Joe Biden’s Violence Against Women Act, which was reauthorized again after fierce opposition in 2013. Now, these women believed it their duty to act and demonstrate to ensure they not lose the ground they’ve made in the struggle for equality.
Pink, knitted “Pussy Hats” were donned by NYC protestors in the thousands.
Julia Garber, a 24-year-old from Los Angeles who now lives in Manhattan, tells the Press she was marching for women’s rights and because she doesn’t “want a straight white male making decisions about women’s bodies.”
Throughout the route, protestors often broke into unified songs and choruses championing their many causes. “We shall overcome” was a popular chant along the constant wave along the route. “We are the popular vote!” “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” “No Human Is Illegal” and “Hey Hey Ho Ho Donald Trump Has Got To Go!” were others.
The messages scrawled across their countless signs and posters were as diverse, with some including: “Pussy Power,” “Peace, Love, and Women’s Rights,” “Dissent is Patriotic,” and “My Body, My Choice.” A small child in a second story window inside a nail salon held up a poster he made in crayon: “Turmp Hate.”
Thick throngs of protestors slowly paraded through the streets surrounding Trump Tower, cheering and chanting as temperatures fell.
Besides championing women’s rights and rebuking Trump, protestors were also marching for climate change, healthcare, Black Lives Matter, and immigration, among other causes.
Stephanie Fazzio, 28, told the Press near 45th Street that she and Helen Stewart, of Brooklyn, were there marching “because women’s rights are human rights.”
“And for education, climate change, EPA, the sense of betrayal from so many people in our country who don’t think these things matter, added Stewart. “As women, we saw so many people in the public show that they don’t thing our rights are important.”
Zoe Burkholder, 42, from Monte Clair, NJ, told the Press she was marching for the “the civil rights for many, many groups.”
Miki Weiss, of Ossining, NY, said she was marching because “Democracy is at stake. Plus, for my three daughters. I fear for all the rights they can lose—for them, living in a world where hate is okay.”
“Trump will put democracy at stake,” she continued. [That’s] why we need a demonstration.”
Quoting a nearby banner she noticed, and loved, Weiss added:
“Make racism wrong again.”
Featured Photo: Thousands of protestors swarmed the streets on their trek to Trump Tower in New York City on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 as part of the Women’s March On Washington and associated Sister Marches across the country. (Long Island Press / Spencer Rumsey)