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Protesters on the DC Metro take selfies on their way to the mall at around 9:30am. The atmosphere was jovial, excited, and polite—people gave one another directions, drew attention to vacant seats, and calmly squished into subway cars to accommodate the crowds—as throngs of protesters descended on the DC metro system for the women's march. As of 11am, DC Metro reported 100,000 more riders than at the same time on president Donald Trump's inauguration day. 


The Women’s March
on Washington in DC on Saturday, January 21, offered a stark contrast to president Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before. Inauguration attendees on the National Mall calmly witnessed President Trump’s pledges to end the “American carnage” of job outsourcing from free trade, poverty, illegal immigration, and drug abuse. Blocks away black-clad antifascist protesters violently smashed storefront windows. Police responded with flashbangs and pepper spray, and a limousine went up in flames, billowing black smoke outside the offices of The Washington Post.

The next day, the mood flipped. The Women’s March on Washington—an idea started on Facebook by a woman in Hawaii—drew an estimated half a million people to National Mall and the surrounding streets, with thousands more attending sister marches in cities in almost every state in America and around the globe. The DC Metro system was quickly overwhelmed early in the day by whooping, festive protesters decked out in pink pussyhats and signs rejecting and denouncing the misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and climate change denialism associated with the Trump administration. The crowds literally filled up the planned march route to the White House. Estimates indicate up to three times the number of attendees at the march compared to the inauguration. 

Core march organizers had centered their messaging on intersectionality, highlighting the discrimination faced by women of color, by transgender women, by undocumented immigrant women, while reproductive rights predominated on protest signs.

Most of all, it was a show of solidarity and a therapeutic rejection of the divisive values that the Trump administration has championed. Despite the sheer size of the crowds, the atmosphere was jovial and compassionate; protesters sang, chanted, danced, sat in silent protest, ate, and helped families with strollers and small children, the elderly, and people in wheelchairs navigate the crowded mall as speakers ranging from Angela Davis to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards rallied from a nearby stage. As a middle-aged Muslim woman who had travelled from Maryland to attend put it: “We really needed this.” —Josh Kelety

 

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Protesters disembark the Metro at Judiciary Square station, repeatedly breaking out in cheers and chants of "Fired up and ready to go!" as they slowly filter out onto the streets above.

 

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Protesters cheer as they head on to the mall by way of Fourth Ave.

 

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Attendees observe the scene on the mall as the crowds grow in anticipation for the coming march.

 

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Photographers and protesters jockey for space on a stack of wood pallets as the crowd fills out the west end of the mall.

 

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Sea of pink hats: A portion of the crowd on the east end of the mall at 10:30am, with more still pouring in. It was estimated that around half a million people in total attended the DC march.

 

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Spotted on the mall: While not the sole focus of the march, protesters calling for the protection of reproductive rights were prominent.

 

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Muna Odeh, a board member of the Chicago-based Muslim Women's Alliance nonprofit, traveled with 50 other Muslim women from Illinois to DC. "I'm marching because I'm tired of apologizing for being a woman; I'm tired of apologizing for being a Muslim woman, I'm tired of apologizing for wearing a hijab and being a woman who has a voice," she said. 

 

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Protesters filled the steps of the National Gallery of Art, adjacent to the mall.

 

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Children pose for photos on the mall. 

 

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Meanwhile, back on the mall, children leave behind protest signs. Signs were also left in an orderly fashion across downtown DC—including in front of the White House.

 

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Around 1:30pm, half an hour after the originally publicized start time for the march, organizers called it off due to the size of the crowd. But attendees proceeded to march anyway.

 

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