It was a very long, incredibly large demonstration. The city was invaded by pink caps, the de facto symbol of this historic march that invaded not only Washington but also New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and dozens of other cities around the world.
The Women’s March, the brainchild of a group of Hawaiian women who created it two days after Trump’s election, has reached such a size in a short time that it cannot be ignored and has attracted the support of virtually all American associations dealing with civil rights.
“Every time you organize a demonstration, you need a permit from the municipality for each group that joins the parade,” says 62-year-old Tim, a local government worker who joined the Women’s March. “This time, we’ve issued more than 100 permits.”
In Washington alone, 200,000 people were expected, but more than double actually joined. A crowd of an estimated 600,000 people said out loud that resistance starts now. Women, men, Americans, foreigners, straight, gay, all said that women rights are civil rights and will be defended as such.
“I am a 78-year-old Jewish woman,” Ruth tells me. “My parents fled Nazi Germany, I lived through the ’50s. Honey, when I see a fascist and a misogynist, I recognize him, and I fight.”
The only way to get to the rally that preceded the inauguration was on foot. The subway and the platforms were so crowded that the trains did not stop at stations nearest to the concentration, because that area could not accommodate more people.
Because of this, a flood of people on foot actually made several marches from various points far away from where the rally was to be held. They joined into the masses without being able to get anywhere near the stage.
On the stage, different personalities took turns speaking to the immense crowd that was cheering and feeling lighter after the heaviness of the previous day.
Michael Moore, evidently moved, said: “You are so many, we are so many. And now we have to continue. You may not believe it, but I am a shy man. When I started to do what I do, back in Michigan, I needed hours to overcome my shyness, and this is now what we all have to do now. You, too. It is important to overcome our own weaknesses and get in the game. Especially politically: We need to enter the local political game. Local policy is essential. Defend your neighborhood, your city and this will help defend the country.”
One of the most applauded speeches was that of the young Sophie Cruz, 8 years old, who became famous during the Pope’s visit to Washington in 2015. Back then, she had managed to slip through the barriers, embrace him and give him a hand-written letter with an appeal for immigration reform, because her parents don’t have legal status.
Sophie’s personal fear for the deportation of her parents made her one of the youngest voices of the immigration reform movement. Feminist leader Gloria Steinem described the mobilization around the world as “the rise of the other side of the coin. It is an injection of energy and democracy. I have never seen anything like this in my life, and it is a very long life.
“Sometimes we have to put our physical bodies where are our beliefs lie,” she added. “Especially now with Trump, who is an impossible president.”
The streets of Washington were a pink river, consisting mainly of wool hats with kitten ears (“pussy hats”) in reference to one of the worst comments by Trump about women. Many men wore this hat proudly.
“My wife made this hat,” said Mitch, 35, from Virginia. “It’s a great sign because it is handmade, just like this nation, made by the hands of Americans who are in the streets today and will be in the streets during the next four years, if necessary, every day.”
The most frequent slogans were not those of fear, as had happened in previous demonstrations, but of the fight. “Resistance begins now,” all the speakers said from the stage.
“Resistance begins now,” said the actress Ashley Judd, before beginning her speech on the meaning of being a whore, a nasty woman, as Trump described Hillary Clinton during a debate. “I am a nasty woman,” she said. “Now I’ll tell you what a nasty woman does not do,” and went on to list all the misdeeds of Trump’s cabinet members, while she was being continually interrupted by the roar of the crowd which was irrepressible at that point and expanded into all the streets around the square.
Actress America Ferrera said on the same stage: “Protesters, make no mistake. All of us, each of us, we are all under attack. Our security and freedoms are in extreme danger.” Ferrera’s message was palpably received. Many in the procession wore sombreros, Native American symbols and Black Lives Matter shirts.
By the time the parade was supposed the end, that’s actually when the procession started. People never stopped moving. There were protesters in every street of Washington.
“I wonder what Trump will tweet today,” said a black man named Ira. “Perhaps he will ignore it, but he is here in Washington. If he has ears, he can hear us.” This crowd will be hard to ignore. Trump will try, but he will have to make a big effort. No one seems to want to stay home and quietly watch him tear civil rights apart.
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