Women against Trump out in force

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

HUN­DREDS of thou­sands of peo­ple gath­ered in cities across the US and around the world on Satur­day for mas­sive protests a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, a sig­nal of dis­con­tent with Amer­ica’s new leader that threat­ened to up­stage his first days in of­fice.

The Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton, billed as a re­sponse to Trump’s sur­prise elec­tion vic­tory, eclipsed Trump’s swear­ing-in as the most widely at­tended po­lit­i­cal event in the cap­i­tal this week­end. It was mir­rored by large ral­lies across the US and in in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tals in­clud­ing Ber­lin, Paris and Ottawa.

In Wash­ing­ton, women and men from around the coun­try choked sub­way trains and down­town streets from early morn­ing un­til late af­ter­noon. Chant­ing demon­stra­tors could be seen and heard from Trump’s mo­tor­cade as he ar­rived back at the White House from a visit to the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency head­quar­ters in Lan­g­ley, Vir­ginia.

“The rev­o­lu­tion starts here,” mu­si­cian Madonna told the crowd as thou­sands of marchers be­gan head­ing to­ward the White House. “The fight for the right to be free, to be who we are, to be equal. Let’s march to­gether through this dark­ness.”

Large, co-or­di­nated protests also took place in Bos­ton, San Fran­cisco and St Louis as Chicago’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion said shortly af­ter 1.30pm lo­cal time that the 129-hectare Grant Park, the lo­cus of the protest there, had reached ca­pac­ity. Smaller cities such as Ketchum, Idaho, and St Paul, Min­nesota, also held women’s marches.

More than 500 000 peo­ple had used the Wash­ing­ton sub­way sys­tem by 3pm lo­cal time, tran­sit au­thor­ity spokesman Dan Stes­sel said. Some metro sta­tions were tem­po­rar­ily closed due to crowd­ing and city of­fi­cials urged peo­ple not to over­whelm the sys­tem, which nor­mally han­dles about 200 000 rid­ers on an av­er­age week­end day.

White House Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer dis­missed any at­tempt to com­pare the Wash­ing­ton march with Trump’s in­au­gu­ral a day ear­lier, say­ing that there were no of­fi­cial crowd-size es­ti­mates from the Na­tional Park Ser­vice, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the Na­tional Mall. He ig­nored shouted follow-up ques­tions on the march af­ter a brief state­ment to re­porters at the White House late in the af­ter­noon.

Trump lost the US pop­u­lar vote by about 3 mil­lion bal­lots to Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton but won the Elec­toral Col­lege, se­cur­ing the pres­i­dency. The march or­gan­is­ers’ web­site claimed more than 600 protests world­wide, in­clud­ing hun­dreds in the US.

In­stead of the red “Make Amer­ica Great Again” re­galia pop­u­lar at the in­au­gu­ra­tion, many marchers wore pink knit­ted caps with pointed cor­ners and dubbed “pussy­hats”, as a sym­bol of de­fi­ance to the new pres­i­dent.

“I want the mes­sage to get to Trump that we are mon­i­tor­ing him, we are pay­ing at­ten­tion to what’s hap­pen­ing and he will be hear­ing from us,” said Phyl­lis Zito, a re­tiree from Staten Is­land who was demon­strat­ing in front of Trump Tower in Man­hat­tan on Satur­day.

Crowds in Wash­ing­ton stretched al­most the en­tire length of the planned march route, from near the Na­tional Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian to the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment, a dis­tance of al­most 1500m.

Even be­fore it be­gan, the Wash­ing­ton demon­stra­tion of­fered a con­trast to Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion day, which was marked by smaller crowds than Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s two in­au­gu­ra­tions and de­struc­tive protests. Trump opened his pres­i­dency with a fiery pop­ulist ad­dress in­vok­ing work­ing-class griev­ances and a bleak por­trait of the coun­try.

Si­mone Machamer rode the Metro to the march on Satur­day morn­ing car­ry­ing a pink poster that read “IUD: Ir­ri­tat­ing Ugly Don­ald”.

The 50-year-old from Sara­sota, Flor­ida, said she made the trip to Wash­ing­ton partly be­cause she sup­ports Planned Par­ent­hood and op­poses any ef­fort to curb re­pro­duc­tive and abor­tion rights. “I’m hop­ing peo­ple know what he stood for was wrong,” she said. “His plat­form was hate, di­vi­sion.”

Demo­crat pres­i­den­tial can­di­date loser Hil­lary Clin­ton said in a Twit­ter post that the cause be­hind the march was as “im­por­tant as ever”.

“Thanks for stand­ing, speak­ing & march­ing for our val­ues @ women­smarch,” she posted on Twit­ter. “I truly be­lieve we’re al­ways Stronger To­gether.”

Clin­ton at­tended Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion. She wasn’t seen at the protests. Sev­eral Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress at­tended the Wash­ing­ton march. Trump generated a back­lash from women’s groups for com­ments he made dur­ing the cam­paign. He said he believed women who have abor­tions should face some kind of pun­ish­ment. He called Clin­ton a “nasty wo­man” dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial de­bate.

PIC­TURE: AP

Madonna smiles be­fore she per­forms dur­ing the Women’s March in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day.

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