'This is the beginning': Over one million join anti-Trump Women's Marches worldwide

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP | Demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017.

Just one day after President Donald Trump took office, more than a million took to the streets Saturday in Washington and around the world to "inaugurate the resistance" – as many placards put it.


They came in their droves, bussed in from across the USA, descending on the nation's capital to voice their opposition to the new president’s views on women and to voice their support for the numerous causes that many on the left fear Trump will reverse.

'The beginning of years of protest'

"I have to protest this president, I have to stand with women and not only women, with people of colour, with the LGBT community, with Planned Parenthood," said Rita, a 47-year-old graphic designer from Portland, Oregon.

"Trump is a fascist, a horrible person and I don't think he represents the majority of the country and he certainly doesn't represent my beliefs.

"I hope this is the beginning of years of protest against this president and years of change."

Rita carried a sign reading "Tiny hands, giant ass****", one of thousands of homemade placards sporting slogans deriding the 45th president of the United States and his political agenda in often imaginative ways: "Keep your theology off my biology", “Groper in Chief” “Tweet others how you want to be tweeted”, “Build the wall… around Trump” and “We will fight for the reproductive rights our mother’s won”.

A day earlier, tens of thousands had flocked to the National Mall in Washington to witness Trump's inauguration.

During his inauguration speech, Trump had proclaimed that "January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again". Those in Washington and other cities were hoping January 21st would be the day they showed the new president he did not speak for them.

Global protests

The Women’s March crowd clearly dwarfed that of the president's inauguration in Washington.

"Visuals are very important. You can deny numbers, you can deny data, but you cannot deny the sight of such a huge number of people all standing together," said 37-year-old teacher Holly, who had travelled to Washington the march from Connecticut with her friend Sarah, also a teacher.

"This is a good opportunity to show Trump that people will stand up if he tries to take our liberties away," Sarah added.

With many of the barricades, banners, seating and signage still in place for the previous day's pageantry, the protesters thronged the Mall, surrounded the Washington Monument and other landmarks and swarmed the side streets. Whereas the day before red "Make America Great Again" baseball hats had been ubiquitous, many of the protesters on Saturday sported pink knitted hats, dubbed "pussy hats" in reference to Trump's infamous "Grab them by the pussy" remark.

Similar scenes were repeated in cities across the US and around the world. More than 500,000 marched in Los Angeles, according to local police, and over 120,000 rallied in Chicago. From London to Sydney, Bangkok to Cape Town via Rome, Paris and Berlin, demonstrators took to the streets across the globe.

'This is what democracy looks like'

In Washington, the city's infrastructure creaked under the strain of the crowds.

The subway was packed to capacity, there were ‘traffic jams’ on the streets despite the best efforts of official march marshals to direct the crowd.

Some people clambered up walls, others climbed trees or traffic lights to escape the crowds or just to get a better view of the sea of people.

There was fury as the hundreds of Portaloos set up for the inauguration were padlocked shut for the march. Some took matters into their own hands, smashing the locks with rocks to gain access.

The scene was often chaotic, but the atmosphere was generally jovial and friendly, with no sign of the trouble that led to the more than 200 arrests at the inaugeration on Friday.

"Show me what democracy looks like," cried one woman who had clambered up a tree not far from the National Museum of the American Indian. "This is what democracy looks like," the crowd yelled back in unison.

"I was here to protest the Iraq war in 2003", said Sara, a 52-year-old from Milwaukee. "But this is much bigger."

"I’m pleasantly surprised by the turnout," added Camilla, a Washington DC resident in her 30s. "I guess as DC is a progressive city, nobody showed up yesterday at the inauguration and preferred to come today."

'Love trumps hate'

While women certainly made up the majority of the marchers in Washington, there was no shortage of men showing their solidarity.

"We're here because of Donald Trump's rhetoric regarding women and minorities," said Richard, a 23-year-old from Boston who travelled to Washington with his mother and sister.

"I'm personally not affected by what he is saying – I'm a white male from a relatively good economic background – but it's important we all stand together, women's rights concern everyone,"

"Women's rights are just so important," added his friend Leo, 27, from Los Angeles.

"Women are behind everything, none of us would be here without them. Women's rights are everyone's rights."

The only sign of possible friction came from a group of fundamentalist Christians who had taken up a position not far from the White House. But the cheerful response from the crowd was nothing more than some dancing and a chant of "Love trumps hate."

They may even have been heard in the Oval Office, where the day before Trump had already set about ringing in the changes many of those protesting fear, such as an executive order to halt Obamacare.

Will the protestors be heard by the new White House administration?

And is this just the begininng of a larger, long-term movement?

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