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2 Women's March rallies held on same day in Manhattan

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired up the crowd at both the Women's March on NYC and the Women's Unity Rally.

Women came together on Saturday to protest injustice at the Women's March in Manhattan. (Credit: amNY / Matthew Chayes)

Thousands of people gathered in Manhattan on Saturday to celebrate the power of women and protest President Donald Trump at two separate Women's March events.

The third installment of the Women’s March on NYC, hosted by the Women’s March Alliance, took place near Columbus Circle, while the NYC chapter of Women’s March Inc. co-hosted a separate rally at the same time with the New York Immigration Coalition in Foley Square. 

The Women’s March on NYC kicked off with a short rally around 11 a.m. From Columbus Circle, protesters marched east to Sixth Avenue and then south to 44th Street.

Ahead of the march, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens) rallied the crowd, which stretched up Central Park West past 75th Street. Ocasio-Cortez appeared later at the Women's Unity Rally downtown.

“We will not be quiet when it comes to the rights of [transgender] women! We will not be quiet when it comes to the rights of poor women and working class women and middle class women and all women in the United States of America and the world!” Ocasio-Cortez said, evoking massive cheers from the Women's March on NYC. “Last year we brought the power to the polls and this year we need to make sure that we translate that power into policies!”

The NYC chapter of Women’s March Inc., meanwhile, held a Women's Unity Rally from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that highlighted the leadership of the movement’s women of color. The event also honored “the work and spirit” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just days ahead of his namesake national holiday.

“I believe 2019 is a year of clarity. As director of Women’s March NYC and a pansexual feminist who was born in Kenya and now a native of the Bronx . . . I believe clarity will only come from who we are and who we want our city to be," Agunda Okeyo told the crowd. "I have faith in our ability to do it because as a pansexual feminist, immigrant and organizer, I’m constantly underestimated and erased."

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem announced during the Women’s Unity Rally that the Bayview Correctional Facility for women on Manhattan’s West Side will be converted into a women’s center.

“Turning prisons into free centers for women is going to be a symbol that is contagious all over the world,” Steinem said.

The rally in Foley Square drew about 1,500 people, while about 10,000 turned out for the Women's March on NYC — still a fraction of the 200,000-strong protest in 2018.

Taking the nation by storm in January 2017, the Women’s March movement was born out of frustration over Trump’s 2016 election. 

The Women’s March on D.C. inspired dozens of grass roots sister marches across the country, including one in New York City. But while all of the events were held in concert on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, each sister march was planned independently of the organizers in D.C.

The movement’s leadership has since splintered as a power struggle ensues between the organizers of the D.C. march, now known as Women’s March Inc., and the organizers of the sister marches, including Women's March Alliance.

In November, Siemionko said a Women’s March Inc. board member had asked that some of their team members be involved in planning the 2019 Women’s March on NYC and when she declined, they threatened to hold their own competing march. A spokeswoman for Women’s March Inc. had said that the organization was planning an event separate from the Women’s March on NYC, but declined to comment specifically on Siemionko’s claims.

With Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla and Laura Figueroa Hernandez

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