Out in force: Activists hope anti-Trump marches become a movement

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

A sister marched on Washington, D.C.

A wife marched on Madison.

A mother marched on St. Petersburg, Florida.

A brother waved a sign in New York City.

A dad stayed home to watch the kids, who were too young to attend the Women’s March in Chicago.

The progressive family united Jan. 21 — the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States — in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.

The mass mobilization of demonstrators exceeded the expectations of organizers at the main march in the U.S. capital, where an estimated 500,000 to 1 million attendees far surpassed the number who attended the inauguration. There were also sister marches held in 672 other cities around the world.

Estimated participants worldwide: almost 5 million people.

Marchers rallied behind shouts of “This is what democracy looks like” and waved signs that were bold, defiant, proud, imaginative, artistic, stylish, loving, clever and, yes, mocking.

Aerial photographs popped with the pink of the pointy-eared pussyhats worn by so many marchers — reminding the world of the new president’s crude braggadocio about sexual assault. White was also an important color, as marchers emulated Hillary Clinton, who wore white at her nominating convention last summer and again at Trump’s inauguration in homage to the suffragettes.

Judging from slogans and signs shared from march to march, many protesters embraced humor as a way to deal with the inauguration. Placards announced “I’m with Meryl,” “Repeal and Replace Trump,” “Viva La Vulva,” “I’m with her,” “Ikea has better cabinets” and “Tweet women with respect.”

D.C. marcher Jacob Schwartz’ sign read, “We shall overcomb.”

“I spent a lot of time this morning thinking about what today would be like if Hillary had won,” said Schwartz. Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots but lost the Electoral College vote 227-304. “I wanted a victory celebration. But we’ve got to deal with what we’ve got. We’ve had our mourning time.”

Clinton, via Twitter, thanked marchers for “standing, speaking and marching for our values.”

anti-Trump marches
A young demonstrator at the Women’s March in Christchurch, New Zealand, suggests it is time to make America kind.

Karen Holt-Smith, who marched in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “The people aren’t going to have it. The people — the majority — didn’t want Trump. We’re taking that man down — a lot more than a peg.”

At a staging area for the march, Holt-Smith stopped at a tent to write a sign that read in cursive letters, “Respect your mother.”

Beside her, another marcher, 18-year-old Carly Contreras, was dotting the letters “I” on her sign, which read, “The pussies are pissed.”

Contreras had decided to skip work and join the protest after seeing photographs from sister marches in New Zealand and Australia and reading stories about marchers arriving in Washington, D.C.

“Overnight, this country became a different place,” Contreras said 24 hours after Trump’s inauguration. “I’m not going to shut up about it.”

From march to movement

The Women’s March on Washington began to come together in the first week after Election Day.

The organizing statement read, “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

The statement also says the Women’s March sends “a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office and the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

Sister marches took place in every U.S. state, as well as 60 other countries representing every continent.

Many of the walks began or ended with rallies featuring activists, political leaders and performers.

“We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war,” actress America Ferrera said, addressing the crowd in Washington. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.”

anti-Trump marches
A sign of the times in Rome.

The inaugural protests did not begin with the Women’s March, though — multiple actions took place in the days before Trump swore his oath, including demonstrations for immigrant rights, environmental justice, health care reform, racial justice and peace.

Nor will the anti-Trump protests end with the Women’s March.

The Women’s March coordinators announced a “10 Actions for the First 100 Days” campaign aimed at ending gender-based violence and safeguarding reproductive rights, LGBT rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom and environmental justice.

“The grassroots movement has gone viral in an unprecedented way,” said Sister March spokeswoman Yordanos Eyoel. “We’re excited to convert this enthusiasm into an action network for change after the march.”

For the record

A 1969 anti-Vietnam War protest drew about 600,000 people to Washington, D.C.

The 1995 Million Man March drew about 400,000 people, according to the National Park Service, which no longer provides crowd estimates.