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US: Hundreds of thousands in DC to protest Trump era

22nd Jan 2017
US: Hundreds of thousands in DC to protest Trump era

By Michael Hernandez and Canberk Yuksel


WASHINGTON (AA): Just one day after President Donald Trump took the oath of office, more than half a million people are flocking to the nation’s capital to protest their freshly inaugurated chief executive.

“We needed to come out to support each other in a moment that is kind of rough for a lot of people,” said Paula, a fifth-grade teacher from Boston as she took part in the Women’s March on Washington.

Washington Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue wrote on Twitter that organizers increased their crowd estimate to nearly double what was originally anticipated.

If the women-led protest estimates are realized, they will easily far surpass crowds that gathered to see Trump assume office a day earlier.

Droves of buses carrying demonstrators have parked around the city as more transit to the nation’s capital.

“People are here to fight back,” said Alain, a black pharmacist from D.C. “This is the day after inauguration, and look how many people showed up. It’s probably more than yesterday, which shows you exactly where the country stands.”

The masses that gathered have flooded D.C.’s metro system, as protesters converged on the National Mall before participating in a two-mile march that was delayed as organizers attempted to grapple with the volume of people. The march will terminate at the White House.

D.C.’s inauguration Twitter account said the metro is at capacity, and called on riders to be patient.

Demonstrators have gathered to bring attention to a wide array of issues, including women’s rights, LGBT rights, and minority rights. All of which, they say, are threatened by the Trump administration.

For Wendy, a southern California retiree, the protests are a moment of solidarity that warranted her cross-country trip.

“Today brings us together, and that’s the best thing we can hope for,” she said. “Everything Obama did will be taken down, we’ll go back to before abortion, before birth control; it’s very depressing to me and it’s not the world I want my children to live in.”

And Nada, a veiled 17-year-old student from New Jersey said that as a Muslim, she felt obligated to attend.

“It is part of my responsibility to be part of movements towards justice, to fight for the rights of marginalized communities and to fight against sexism coming from Donald Trump,” she said.

Organizers had remained tight lipped about the march’s actual route, but released a map in the hours leading up to the event.

As the masses continued to grow in Washington, their turnout was being rivaled by sister marches in New York, Chicago and Boston and other U.S cities. Demonstrations in cities across the nation are also taking place, including in America’s second largest city, Los Angeles.

Despite being far behind the east coast chronologically, the city saw crowds estimated at tens of thousands by the Los Angeles Times newspaper, flooding Pershing Square downtown before marching in a procession that will take them to City Hall where major celebrities, including Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman and Barbra Streisand, are slotted to speak.

The normally sparsely used LA subway system was overwhelmed with riders, the newspaper said.

Crowds swelled to such proportions in Chicago that organizers had to cancel the planned march, but continued with a rally.

And abroad, protests are scheduled to take place across European capitals, South Africa, Mexico, Tokyo, Sydney and elsewhere.

At the U.S. embassy in London, thousands of protesters carried signs that read “reject hate, reclaim politics” and chanted “Build bridges, not walls” – a chant often heard after Trump said he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out undocumented immigrants.

Clare Mariscal, 38, was among those who gathered at Trafalgar Square. She said she is protesting Trump and all he stands for. “He embodies all the problems in society towards women.”

Charity worker, Jamma Monday, 24, attended to stand for all the women around the world. She has called on the U.K. government to “be strong” and “stand up for your own people”.

In Paris, hundreds gathered in front of the American embassy and thousands walked from Human Rights Square in Trocadero to the Wall of Peace at the base of the Eiffel Tower to show solidarity with the Washington march.

Protestors chanted and raised banners that said, “Dump the Trump”, “Don’t Trump me” and “Girl Power vs. Trump Tower”.

Many wore pink “pussy hats” to protest sexist comments Trump was caught making on a video recording in which he spoke about grabbing women’s genitals.

* Busra Akin Dincer contributed to this report from London, and Hajer M’tiri from Paris

[Photo: Demonstrators attend the Women’s March to protest President Donald Trump in Washington, USA on January 21, 2017. Photographer:  Muhabiri Mohammed Elshamy/AA]

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