WASHINGTON (AP) — Determined to push back against the new president, thousands of women descended on the capital Saturday for a march aimed at showing Donald Trump they won’t be silent over the next four years.
Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington expected more than 200,000 people to turn out for a more orderly show of force than the chaos created by self-described anarchists who took to the streets on Inauguration Day in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests.
Hundreds of anti-Trump marches were planned elsewhere across the country and around the world.
Hours before the women’s event in Washington began, people were streaming into the city, many wearing bright pink hats and wielding signs with messages such as “The future is female” and “Less fear more love.”
Rena Wilson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she hopes the women can send Trump a message that they’re “not going anywhere.”
Joy Rodriguez, of Miami, arrived with her husband, William, and their two daughters, ages 12 and 10.
“I want to make sure their rights are not infringed on in these years coming up,” Joy Rodriguez said.
March organizers said women are “hurting and scared” as the new president takes office and want a greater voice for women in political life.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” their mission statement says.
Retired teacher Linda Lastella, 69, who came from Metuchen, New Jersey, said she had never marched before but felt the need to speak out when “many nations are experiencing this same kind of pullback and hateful, hateful attitudes.”
“It just seemed like we needed to make a very firm stand of where we were,” she said.
Rose Wurm, 64, a retired medical secretary from Bedford, Pennsylvania, boarded a Washington-bound bus in Hagerstown, Maryland, at 7 a.m. carrying two signs: one asking Trump to stop tweeting, and one asking him to fix, not trash, the Obamacare health law.
“There are parts of it that do need change. It’s something new, something unique that’s not going to be perfect right out of the gate,” she said.
Many arrived wearing hand-knit pink “pussyhats” —a message of female empowerment aimed squarely at Trump’s demeaning comments about women.
The march attracted significant support from celebrities. America Ferrara led the artists’ contingent, and those scheduled to speak in Washington included Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd, Melissa Harris-Perry and Michael Moore. The promised performance lineup included Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Samantha Ronson, the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Women and other groups were demonstrating across the nation and as far abroad as Myanmar and Australia.
In Sydney, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity in Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems.
Friday’s unrest during the inauguration led police to use pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump’s formal procession and the evening balls.
About a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses, including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald’s, as they denounced capitalism and Trump.
“They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers,” said the city’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham.
Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.
The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry.”
When some crossed police lines, taunting, “Put the pigs in the ground,” police charged with batons, pepper spray and stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.
As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they headed for the inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball guests to remain inside their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.
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Associated Press Writers Nancy Benac, Ben Nuckols, Alanna Durkin Richer, Brian Witte and David Dishneau contributed to this report.