Millions of protesters around the world marched today in support of women’s rights, LGBT rights, health care, and more, and against Donald Trump’s agenda.
Crowds for the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., and its sister marches throughout the U.S. and overseas were larger than expected. The Washington march drew an estimated half a million people, where organizers had expected 200,000, according to MSNBC. The Chicago event brought out 250,000, five times as many as anticipated, so it was limited to a rally rather than a march through the streets, for safety reasons. In Seattle, the crowd was estimated at 130,000, double the number expected.
The crowd for the Washington event appeared to be much larger than the one for Friday’s inauguration festivities, but Trump press secretary Sean Spicer claimed news coverage of the inauguration attendance was inaccurate. “Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” he said at a press conference Saturday (watch below). The media did not have numbers for the inauguration because the National Park Service did not release any, he added. This applies as well to crowd estimates for Saturday’s protests, he said.
However, he did not let the lack of hard numbers keep him from asserting, “This was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.” He cited numbers from D.C.'s mass transit system about ridership, but actually, they indicated crowds were bigger for the march than for the inauguation. Spicer also said materials used to protect the grass on the National Mall during the inagural events made the area look emptier than it was.
Trump himself, attending a meeting at the CIA Saturday, also contended that the media underestimated the crowd at his inauguration. “I get this network and it showed an empty field,” he said, according to CBS News. “And it said we drew 250,000 people — now that’s not bad, but it’s a lie.” He claimed the crowd was likely 1 million or more.
Another difference between the inauguration and the marches was the celebrity presence. Movie, TV, and music stars addressed the protesters, as did many elected officials and longtime activists. That was in contrast to the fact that there were few prominent entertainers at the inauguration and that many members of Congress boycotted it.
“It’s been a heartrending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country,” actress America Ferrera told the Washington event, The New York Times reports. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America! And we are here to stay.”
Actress Scarlett Johansson praised Planned Parenthood, which many Republicans in Congress want to defund. It is a source of compassionate, nonjudgmental, affordable health care, she told Washington attendees. “President Trump, I did not vote for you,” she added, according to the Times. “I want to be able to support you. But first I ask that you support me. Support my sister. Support my mother. Support my best friend and all of our girlfriends.”
Madonna delivered a pointed, profanity-laden message: “To our detractors that insist this march will never add up to anything, fuck you. Fuck you. It is the beginning of much-needed change.” She then led the capital crowd in “Express Yourself.”
Feminist activist Gloria Steinem told the Washington crowd, “We’re not turning back,” while filmmaker Michael Moore encouraged attendees to run for office. Janelle Monae, Cher, Ashley Judd, and many other notables spoke at the event as well.
In Atlanta, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement who had skipped the inauguration, addressed protesters. “I’m ready to march again,” he said, according to the Times. “I’ve come here to say to you: Don’t let anybody, anybody, turn you around.” He also implored attendees, ”The next election, we must get out and vote like we never, ever voted before.”
In Los Angeles, where organizers estimated 750,000 people attended, the march was led by an all-women motorcycle group, along with singer Miley Cyrus, the Los Angeles Times reports. “There is a sea of humanity everywhere,” L.A. Police Capt. Andrew Neiman told the paper.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spoke in Boston on a variety of issues, The New York Times reports. “We believe in science. … We know that climate change is real,” she said. “We also believe that immigration makes this country a stronger country,” she continued. “We will not build a stupid wall and we will not tear millions of families apart.”
Overseas, there were marches in places as far-flung as Berlin — where signs made reference to the city’s experience that walls don’t work — London, Paris, Buenos Aires, and even Antarctica, according to MSNBC. Events were scheduled in more than 670 locations.