Women’s March on Washington: Hundreds of thousands fill U.S. capital and elsewhere
WARNING: Language appears in this story that may be offensive to some readers
- The crowd is packing the entire route of the Women’s March on Washington, preventing organizers from leading the formal march
- Attendance is now expected to be more than 1 million people at rallies worldwide
- Sister rallies in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and many others are underway
Over 1 million people massed in the U.S. capital and other cities around the world Saturday for marches and demonstrations aimed at showing Donald Trump they won’t be silent over the next four years.
An Associated Press source said the crowd packed the entire route of the Women’s March on Washington, preventing organizers from leading the formal march toward the White House.
City officials initially estimated that the rally attracted hundreds of thousands to the U.S. capital.
There were so many people that it was almost impossible to move, Global’s Patricia Kozicka reported.
“We were told to go a certain way (away from the stage) to start the march, but it seems the sheer number of people is making that impossible. Despite the confusion and delays, it’s not affecting the energy. People are still chanting, cheering, singing and waving their signs,” she said.
Linda Leone of Jersey City said, “whether we march or not, we made our point.” When asked what that message is, she said: “that love trumps hate, and we’re not going to take his nonsense sitting down.”
With the entire planned route filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters, organizers couldn’t lead a formal march toward the Ellipse near the White House as planned.
Instead, protesters were told to march by other streets, creating a chaotic scene that snarled downtown Washington.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” marchers were heard chanting.
Women held signs with messages such as “Women won’t back down” and “Less fear more love” and decried Trump’s stand on such issues as abortion, health care, diversity and climate change.
“I feel very optimistic even though it’s a miserable moment,” Madeline Schwartzman of New York City said. “I feel power.”
Officials said the crowd in Washington could be more than half a million people, more than double expectations.
The event appeared to have attracted more people than Trump’s inauguration on Friday.
It wasn’t just a Washington phenomenon and it wasn’t just women: more than 600 “sister marches” were planned across the country and around the world, and plenty of men were part of the tableau.
Women and other groups were demonstrating across the nation, as well as countries such as Canada and as far abroad as Myanmar and Australia.
Global’s Marilisa Racco said the mood in Toronto is distinctly anti Trump. She spoke with Dorothy Lloyd, a 90-year-old self professed feminist, who was there with her daughter Gillian and granddaughter Stephanie Sutherland.
When asked what brings her here, the elder Lloyd responds: “everything.”
In Sydney, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity in the city’s central Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems.
And in Frankfurt, Germany, marchers called on people to “hear our voice.”
WATCH BELOW: Women marched the streets of Frankfurt Saturday in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington against Donald Trump
The U.S. president had a view of the protests from the window of his limousine.
It passed several protesters as it travelled to the White House. Cars honked at the limo as it passed.
In Chicago, police said the march had to be changed into a rally due to the amount of people that showed up.
Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera was one of a series of celebrities set to speak at the Saturday rally in Washington.
“Marchers, make no mistake: we are every single one of us under attack,” she said.
“Our safety and freedoms are on the chopping block and we are the only ones who can protect one another.”
Ferrera called on marchers to stand and “fight together for the next four years,” or else risk losing together.
“If we fall into the trap of separating ourselves by our causes and our beliefs, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose.”
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem followed. She took a dig at the numbers attending the march and made a dig at the ones that the inauguration attracted.
“Just this march in Washington today required 1,000 more buses than the entire inauguration,” Steinem said.
WATCH BELOW: During the Women’s March on Washington, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem spoke about the messages of hope and love political leaders and activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, have spread and the importance of sticking together as a nation. Steinem also said Donald Trump and his “Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger.”
She also provided a dispatch of sorts from marches in Europe.
“I was talking with people from our sister marches, including the one in Berlin, and they asked me to send a message.
“‘We in Berlin know that walls don’t work.'”
Filmmaker Michael Moore called on protesters to take over the Democratic Party.
“I’m sorry, but the old guard of the Democratic Party has to go,” he said.
“We need new leadership, we need young leadership, we need women leadership, we need people of colour, we need gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender.”
Actor Scarlett Johansson took to the stage just after 1 p.m. ET to defend Planned Parenthood, which she said is essential for health care in the country.
“Planned Parenthood provided a safe space where I was treated with careful guidance,” she said to the crowd. “I’m sure there’s no one here who hasn’t been touched by Planned Parenthood, directly or otherwise.
“President Trump I did not vote for you. That being said I respect that you are our president-elect and I want to support you. But first, I ask you to support me.”
WATCH: Scarlett Johansson discusses importance of Planned Parenthood
The Washington gathering, which features a morning rally and afternoon march, comes a day after protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump’s formal procession and evening balls.
About a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald’s as they denounced capitalism and Trump.
“They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers,” said the city’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham.
WATCH: Trump Inauguration: protesters clash with supporters in Washington, D.C. after inauguration
Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.
The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry.”
When some crossed police lines, taunting, “Put the pigs in the ground,” police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.
Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police. Later, they set fire to a limousine on the perimeter of the secured zone, sending black smoke billowing into the sky during Trump’s procession.
WATCH: Raw video: Protesters set limo on fire after Trump Inauguration
As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they ventured to the new president’s inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball goers to remain inside their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.
Police said they charged 217 people with rioting, said Newsham, noting that the group caused “significant damage” along a number of blocks.
Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when necessary.
It was unclear whether the groups will be active on Saturday.
Other speakers at the rally included Madonna, who delivered a profanity-laced address.
She said the “F” word three times in her speech.
Meanwhile, Alicia Keys performed “Girl on Fire” at the rally.
Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, said he expected the march to draw more than 200,000 — an estimate that was smashed by the actual attendance.
Protesters take part in the Women’s March rally on January 21, 2017 in Macau, Macau.
In San Francisco, thousands formed a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge and chanted “Love Trumps hate.” In the city’s financial district, a few hundred protesters blocked traffic outside an office building partly owned by Trump.
In Atlanta, protests converged at City Hall and a few hundred people chanted and waved signs protesting Trump, denouncing racism and police brutality and expressing support for immigrants, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Nashville, half a dozen protesters chained themselves to the doors of the Tennessee Capitol. Hundreds also sat in a 10-minute silent protest at a park while Trump took the oath of office. Organizers led a prayer, sang patriotic songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.
In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, burned U.S. flags and students at Portland State University walked out of classes. About 200 protesters gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington, carrying signs that included the messages “Resist Trump” and “Not My Problem.”
- With additional writing by Rebecca Joseph and Jesse Ferreras, Global News
© 2017 The Canadian Press