WASHINGTON – Tens of thousands of protesters gathered Saturday on the National Mall for the Women’s March on Washington and an offshoot in downtown Atlanta a day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The Washington march is the biggest of a constellation of other demonstrations scheduled this weekend in Atlanta and hundreds of other towns to oppose Trump’s policies and call for an expansion of rights for women and minorities during his presidency. The groups demand new protections, such as paid family leave and a higher minimum wage, that the Republican is unlikely to embrace.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s political team is on the scene. Read our live updates below and more here:
Updated at 2:15 p.m.
The turnout was so large that organizes cancelled the marching portion of the event, according to the Associated Press. The group had initially planned to trek from Capitol Hill to the White House but much of the route appeared to be clogged, making safety an issue, the news organization said.
Organizers of a sister event in Chicago also made the same decision after the crowd reached 150,000 according to the AP.
Updated at 1:05 p.m.
According to the Associated Press, the estimated turnout for the D.C. march is roughly 500,000 people, double the initial prediction. By comparison, the city’s population is roughly 680,000. Other large crowds were reported from Chicago to Boston.
Speaker after speaker took to the stage in D.C. to rally the crowd around resisting Trump’s agenda, from issues of race, criminal justice and immigration to abortion.
“We all know the truth: if you’re a woman trying to raise a family then a good-paying job is a women’s issue,” said U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. “If you’re a women who’s an immigration who doesn’t want your family falling apart then you know immigration reform is a women’s issue.”
“One of us can be dismissed, two can be ignored, but together we’re a movement and we are unstoppable,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.
The day’s protest was significantly larger — and calmer — than Friday’s occasionally tense standoff in downtown D.C. We haven’t seen any burning trashcans or flare-ups with police.
Meanwhile, former first lady and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted her support:
Updated at 12:30 p.m:
From our colleague Jennifer Brett: Jaymie Goitia of Monroe is here with daughters Lana, 20, and Emily, 14. They took a bus up from Athens.
“We are very privileged people who have the opportunity to have a voice for those who are less fortunate,” she said, surveying the enormous crowd surging toward the Mall. “This is amazing.”
“This is the most people I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lana said.
“And I’ve been to a UGA football game!” her mom quipped.
Lana made the trip because she “felt like it was important to exercise your voice.” Since Emily is a few years from voting age, coming to the march is a way she can participate in the political process.
“This is how I let the county know how I feel,” she said. Added their mom: “I told them this is what making history feels like.”
Updated at 12:25 p.m:
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) January 21, 2017
The Washington demonstration is expected to attract as many as half a million marchers, including many who are chartering buses from across the nation. The event featured speeches by activist Gloria Steinem – “Hillary Clinton is alive and definitely not in jail,” she said to cheers – actress Scarlett Johansson and Lucy McBath, the Atlanta mother of a 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer after a dispute over loud music.
Veronica Kessenich booked her airfare to Washington just days after the election to attend the event.
“I’m not protesting against Trump,” said Kessenich, who runs the Atlanta Contemporary arts nonprofit. “I’m advocating for equality. I want to be a voice for people who are voiceless, who can’t travel and be heard. I see it as a duty — a calling — to be a participant in this march.”
Kathy Steele of Tucker arrived in Washington last night for what the 60-year-old said was a “first step” in political activism.
“Trump just can’t seem to take the heat,” he said. “I’m so worried about how thin his skin is.”
Ginger Nix, an Athens software developer, brought her 13-year-old daughter Maya Smith with her. They were infuriated by Trump’s victory and wanted some way to fight back.
“We have made progress going forward but we’ve leaped backwards by leaps and bounds,” said Smith. “Politics are obnoxious but I want to make a difference.”
Tonya Thornton, also an Athens software developer, said the protest aimed to get under Trump’s skin as he takes the reins of the White House.
“Trump and his administration don’t really care about us. And if anything they are going to set us back,” she said. “If Obama had tweeted about everyone who insulted him, everyone would have gone crazy.”
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) January 21, 2017
Georgia Rep. John Lewis will headline the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women, a 1.7-mile march that begins at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and ends at the state Capitol. Other speakers include state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Sen. Vincent Fort, a mayoral candidate.
Lewis has been locked in a public feud with Trump after he questioned whether the Republican was a “legitimate” president. Trump responded by saying the civil rights icon was “all talk” and slammed his Atlanta-based district as a “crime infested” area that’s in “horrible shape.”
Lewis has kept a lower profile since the barrage, and his boycott of Friday’s inauguration led dozens of other House Democrats to skip the event.
Stay tuned: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will have dispatches all day from a half-dozen reporters in Washington and a half-dozen more in Atlanta.