On Saturday, what began as a small, online murmur of women angered at the Trump campaign’s rhetoric became a full-throated roar in the face of the new administration. In Washington, D.C., as well as in other major cities across the country and globe, millions gathered to protest and vow resistance against the Trump presidency during its first full day in office.
Turnout for the marches vastly overwhelmed expectations. While the largest march occurred in Washington, D.C., other major cities including Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco all had to reroute the planned marches to accommodate swelling numbers of protestors. In Washington, D.C, turnout for the march greatly surpassed turnout for President Trump’s inauguration the day before. An estimated 2.9 million people attended marches across the country, making the event the largest demonstration in U.S. history.
The march was entirely peaceful in nature, without any major incidents of violence or strife in any major city. While not every police department has released statistics, government officials in Washington, D.C. announced that zero arrests were made related to the march or protest activities on the day of the event.
Speakers for the event came from a variety of backgrounds; including politicians such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, and actors Ashley Judd and Scarlett Johansson. National political leaders like former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) were also in attendance, and marched to show their support for women’s rights and the general call to resistance.
Today doesn’t feel as sad as yesterday. It feels like this is going to be our finest hour.
– Suzanne Hall-Fritsch
“I’m here with all of these other great Americans, people that believe that our country is a compassionate and generous place…I think it’s awesome that people came together like this, the day after Donald Trump’s swearing in, to make a statement by their own presence here that we’re all going to stand up and look out for each other and [that] our country’s greatness is found in the hearts of our people.”, said Gov. O’Malley.
While local marches in cities drew large numbers of demonstrators, many traveled long distances to attend the main event in Washington, D.C. Alecia Massaro and Suzanne Hall-Fritsch boarded a bus in Connecticut at 2:15am to attend. Unable to sleep and carrying homemade signs, they watched as full buses of demonstrators crowded each stop along their journey down the East Coast.
The stories motivating each demonstrator were as varied as the crowd, though they all generally revolved around themes of inclusion and a need for a response to fears about the Trump Administration.
“I’m here for a lot of reasons…I am passionate in my support of a woman’s right to choose as well as accessible health care to women of all economic stripes. And most specifically I am a proud mother of a gay woman who has just found out that her rights might be under threat.”, said Suzanne Hall-Fritsch. “She called me on the night of the election in tears, wanting to know if [Vice President] Pence was going to pick her up because of his record of homophobia in the State of Indiana.”
While Hall-Fritsch described more policy-motivated concerns, Massaro described her motivations for attending the Washington, D.C. march with a broader message of inclusion and respect.
“We need to understand that if we don’t start accepting each other and loving each other for our differences than we are going to destroy each other, and that’s why I’m here is to start showing some love.”
While the long-term effects of the marches will remain to be seen, they have been unquestionably effective in the short-term at generating enthusiasm for resistance against the Trump Administration. Rather than feelings of malaise in the wake of President Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March seems have shown attendees like Hall-Fritsch the ability of the progressive movement to organize and respond to defeat.
“Today doesn’t feel as sad as yesterday. It feels like this is going to be our finest hour.”
Michael D. Connolly, Managing Editor / Chief Political Correspondent, Lima Charlie News
Michael Connolly is a former Army Staff Sergeant who served in the Infantry, completing two combat tours to Iraq. He currently serves as the Director of Military and Veterans Affairs for the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland-College Park. Michael is a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council. He graduated with an M.S. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Follow Michael on Twitter: @MConnollyLC
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