Women’s March on Madison turnout rivaled protests against Act 10

Tens of thousands of women and advocates for their equal rights filled the Library Mall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on President Donald Trump’s first full day in office. Police said the estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people who attended the event rivaled turnout for the largest protests staged against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal in 2011 that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.

No one was arrested.

Pink hats adorned the heads of hundreds of women, men and children as they marched down State Street to the state Capitol for the Women’s March on Madison. Protesters held signs supporting women’s reproductive rights and public

Women’s March on Madison
Marchers at the protest in Krakow, Poland.


Among the Madison marchers was Shelly Clarke of Racine. “I went out to protest Donald Trump — his policies, his misdeeds and his hateful sexist, racist, offensive language,” she said. “This event is about that, but so very much more. Because girl, we have a movement.”

“It was bigger than anything I ever attended,” said Paulette Fortin of Janesville. “And I go to a lot of concerts.”

Fortin attended with her 11-year-old daughter, Meghan, who made her own “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights” sign.

Other Wisconsin marches took place in Bayfield, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Minocqua, Plymouth, Sheboygan and Milwaukee, where the protest coincided with the celebratory Riverwest FemFest.

“I wanted Donald Trump to know he’s not getting away with anything,” said Milwaukee marcher Sasha Perry. “I don’t know how an insulter and assaulter got to be president of the United States, but he isn’t going to be able to carry out his promises.”

Inevitable march

“This is an inevitable march,” said Ron Perrault, one of thousands of men who showed up in Madison to support women’s

Women's March on Madison
A display of girl power in Bristol, England.

rights. Trump’s campaign was punctuated by derogatory statements about women in general. He described women in particular in terms of their physical appeal to him.

In a leaked videotape, Trump bragged about using his wealth and power to sexually assault women with impunity.

“With the inauguration and Trump being president, I think it’s galvanized a lot of women and mobilized them to finally stand up,” Perrault said. “Hopefully, this time (women) can move forward much farther than they have been for the past 50 years.”

Some protesters had a list of grievances against Trump that went well beyond his infamous misogyny.

“(I’m here) to help wake America up again,” said Tim Ross of Madison.

Nomi Rivers, also of Madison, said she came in support of causes she fears will be ignored under the Republican majority in Washington, including women’s health care, inequality and climate change.

As a biracial woman coming from a mostly white family, Rivers said she felt alone in her feelings after the election. She said the energy of the march and rally made her feel less alone and more hopeful for the future she wants for the country.

— Lisa Neff, Louis Weisberg, Leonard Sobczak and The Associated Press contributed to this story.