Scenes from the Women’s March on Washington: ‘Enough is enough’
The rally that kicked off the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., had been going for about four hours when the thousands that had gathered started to get restless. Chants of “start the march” circulated between each speaker who addressed the crowd. People were eager to advance, to make an impact. They had come with a purpose. They were not going to be still for much longer.
So the protesters started to move. As they dispersed, cell signals that had been absent from their phones started to kick back in, and word started to spread that The Washington Post had reported the march portion of the event had been canceled because so many more people than had been expected showed up.
“The march is not canceled,” laughed a woman I spoke to who had flown in the previous day from California. “I’m here. I’m marching.”
She said she had voted for Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump doesn’t represent anyone other than rich white men. “He doesn’t represent the majority of the country,” she said. “He and the current government are a threat to human rights. So I’m here as a human and a patriot. And my government will hear me.”
President Trump was everywhere, but his presence took on a different tone than the specter that had fallen over D.C. for the previous two days. Here, he was pathetic. Small. Something to be mocked. Signs referencing his tiny hands were in abundance, as well as the intel report that asserted his predilection for urine parties. (“We like PP,” read one side of a placard. “He likes pee pee,” said the other.) Whatever strength Trump and the people who voted him into office had displayed the previous two days of the inaugural weekend, the the millions of pink pussy hats at the Women’s March dwarfed it, reminded what power really looks like. It turns out it looks like women, and girls, and queer people, and people of color, and people with disabilities. The old and the young. Men were there too, but this wasn’t their day, and they took a backseat.
The entire character of the city shifted overnight. While the parade and the balls were Friday, Saturday was the first time since I arrived that D.C. felt celebratory. There wasn’t fear here, quite the opposite. It was joyous. Humor and laughter were everywhere. When we entered the rally area, a woman was handing out Ziploc “survival bags” with tampons, panty liners, toilet paper, and raisins, “because you never know when your blood sugar might drop!” (The toilet paper ended up coming in handy. Porta potty’s were in short supply or entirely inaccessible because of the number of bodies in the rally area, so strangers formed walls around those who needed to take a leak.)
One couple I spoke to had flown in from Buffalo, New York, and said that while they were not usually activists, as soon as they had heard about the Women’s March after the election, they had made plans to come. They said this was about Trump specifically, his ego, arrogance, and bigotry. They maybe could have lived with some of the other Republican nominees, but Trump was too much. Despite the special trip, they said they weren’t disappointed the original march plans may not go through.
“So many people showed up,” they said. “If it doesn’t make a different to Trump, at least it might to Congress.”
As opposed to the previous night’s protests, which brought out a smaller, if very vocal number of radical activists used to direct confrontation with police, the Women’s March was set apart by the fact that so many people who likely would not normally take to the streets took to the streets. Half a million people cannot be easily ignored or dismissed as a fringe contingent by the administration, or as “criminals” who only want an excuse to break the law. And while the crowd included many white faces, it was in no way exclusively so. After catching some well-earned criticism about its title and platform in the weeks and months after the March was announced, the messaging from the rally stage and among those in the crowd was one of inclusivity and representation.
As we exited the rally, many began to march down Constitution Ave. Behind us, Madonna took the stage and talked about blowing up the White House, a line Trump and company will surely focus on Sunday as front pages of newspapers across the globe are covered in photographs of millions of women in D.C., New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between, telling the President of the United States to shove it up his ass.