Onward: 400,000 take to the streets

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Huge turnout at the NYC Women's March


  • Deva Woodly, an assistant professor of politics at the New School , with her family at Saturday's Women's March in New York. “It's up to the people now – we're the last check," she said. "My kids will need to keep fighting.” Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

  • "Tiny hands Tiny feet, all you do is tweet, tweet, tweet." Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

  • A child holds up her sign during Saturday's Women's March in New York. Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

  • Violet Smith, left, and Christine McGregor at the march Saturday. Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

  • The subway station at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Charmaine P. Rice

The anti-Trump sentiment was strong, the signs spirited, and the chants, loud.

By all accounts, the crowds attending the New York City Women's March exceeded expectations. Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary said the official count topped 400,000. Organizers had expected 100,000 to show up.

Regardless of the exact turnout figure, women and men of all ages, families, millennials and teens turned out in full force the day following President Donald Trump's inauguration to rally around the issues they care about.

Vaughn Bobb Willis, a law student who walked with his two sisters, held up a sign that read “Quality men do not fear equality.”

“It's important for men to do their part,” Willis said on East 55th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, near the march's finish line. “If women aren't equal, then none of us are. Women's rights are human rights.”

Whoopi Goldberg and actors Rosie Perez and Taylor Schilling kicked off the event at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza just before 11 a.m. Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York City, attended, as did actors Helen Mirren and Cynthia Nixon.

Star power aside, marchers came from all walks of life to support a variety of causes, the vast majority of them progressive. “I came down here from New Hampshire. I fear for the future of the country and the future of my kids and grandkids,” said Violet Simpson.

Simpson's friend, teacher Christine McGregor, held up a sign listing issues and institutions she supports, among them unions, public education, refugees and LGBTQ rights. “My sign says it all,” she said.

Indeed, many signs said it all, with some depicting caricatures of Trump, catchy slogans and images of cats as a cheeky nod to Trump's “locker room banter.”

One sign gleefully proclaimed “Tiny hands, tiny feet. All you do is tweet, tweet, tweet!” Another stated “Make America tolerant again.” One was a riff on the Serenity Prayer: “I am no longer accepting things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” Inside the 57th Street subway station on Seventh Avenue, discarded signs were arranged into a display.

“I'm here because I am appalled at his [Trump's] attitudes toward women. I also have concern about healthcare for men and women. Obamacare is dismantling before our very eyes,” said an elderly gentleman who declined to share his name. He walked carrying a large banner he designed himself, reading “Hands off America's women.”

Trump supporters were far and few between. One, a bystander who declined to identify himself, said, “Demonstrators should be marching to destroy ISIS if they actually cared about all women.”

Some protesters literally wore their stance on their sleeve. Kate Gerhart, a student at Barnard College, wrapped herself in the signature LGBTQ flag. “Trump's policies are so harmful for so many minorities,” she said. “As a white woman of privilege, it's even more important to show support.”

Deva Woodly, a politics professor at the New School who marched with her husband and two young children, said the family was taking part in a show of opposition to the incoming administration.

“We're here to show our support for the resistance and for the 65 million folks who did not vote for Mr. Trump. I'm here to stand up for civil rights. The whole idea of liberty is in jeopardy. It's up to the people now — we're the last check. My kids will need to keep fighting,” Woodly said. “I found his inauguration speech highly disturbing. In short, Mr. Trump lacks empathy.”

Nearer Trump Tower, longtime New Yorker Anne Parente marveled at the turnout. “It's so great to see so many young people here,” she said. “I'm usually here for Pride and this turnout surpasses that. Donald Trump has insulted everybody, so everyone can come to this parade!”

Although the march was expected to end with a rally outside Trump Tower at 4 p.m., police redirected crowds south, onto East 55th Street.

Despite the scope and magnitude of the crowds, and while some marchers periodically flipped the bird in unison towards Trump Tower and a topless woman darted through the crowds, the march was peaceful and relatively orderly. Police said there were no arrests.

Periodically, marchers broke out an arsenal of chants. “Show me what democracy looks like,” went one call; “This is what democracy looks like,” went the response.

Another, referencing Trump's pledge to build a partition along the U.S.-Mexico border went “Your hands are too small, you can't build a wall.”

The crowd's zeal echoed well past 4 p.m.

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