WASHINGTON — For the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators attending the Women’s March here Saturday, the high-profile speakers like Gloria Steinem might as well have just been on TV. So many marchers had begun funneling toward The National Mall that by the time the rally began plenty were out of range of the speakers.
But they made a festival-like atmosphere on their own, forming stretch circles and doing trust exercises, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “This is what Democracy looks like,” carrying signs, water bottles, and roses. Participants compared their numbers on The National Mall to attendance figures at President Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony on Friday. And though the march — a roaring response to Trump — had been originally billed less as an anti-Trump event as a statement of principles, anger against Trump was palpable and the defining characteristic.
“It feels like equal human rights are being threatened,” said Amelia Lavranchuk, 27, who was visiting from Washington Heights. She said she was concerned about LGBTQ rights and policing reforms being rolled back in ways large or small.
Marchers expressed that anti-Trump fear and anger about many issues, some large and general like reproductive rights and climate change. Others were more specific: federal civil employees wondering whether they could in good conscious stay in their jobs if the new administration made even subtle changes on federal property signage concerning equal rights.
Kate Sheehan, 33, carried a sign with a picture of a wholesome green earth over the words “I stand with her.” She said she had not listened to Trump’s speech on Friday because it would be too depressing. What depresses her about him?
Mark Chiusano is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.