Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in cities across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday for massive protests a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a signal of discontent with America’s new leader that threatened to upstage his first days in office.
The Women’s March on Washington, billed as a response to Trump’s surprise election victory, eclipsed Trump’s swearing-in as the most widely attended political event in the capital this weekend. It was mirrored by large rallies across the U.S. and in international capitals including Berlin, Paris and Ottawa.
In Washington, women and men hailing from around the country choked subway trains and downtown streets from early morning through late afternoon. Chanting demonstrators could be seen and heard from Trump’s motorcade as he arrived back at the White House from a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
“The revolution starts here,” musician Madonna told the crowd as thousands of marchers began heading toward the White House. “The fight for the right to be free, to be who we are, to be equal. Let’s march together through this darkness.”
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Large, coordinated protests also took place in Boston, San Francisco and St. Louis as Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication said shortly after 1:30 p.m. local time that the 319-acre Grant Park, the locus of the protest there, had reached capacity. Smaller cities such as Ketchum, Idaho, and St. Paul, Minnesota, also held women’s marches.
More than 500,000 people had used the Washington subway system by 3 p.m. local time, transit authority spokesman Dan Stessel said. Some Metro stations were temporarily closed due to crowding and city officials urged people not to overwhelm the system, which normally handles about 200,000 riders on an average weekend day.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed any attempt to compare the Washington march with Trump’s inaugural a day earlier, saying that there were no official crowd-size estimates from the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the National Mall. He ignored shouted follow-up questions on the march after a brief statement to reporters at the White House late in the afternoon.
Trump lost the U.S. popular vote by about 3 million ballots to Democrat Hillary Clinton but won the Electoral College, securing the presidency. The march organizers’ websiteclaimed more than 600 protests worldwide, including hundreds in the U.S.
Instead of the red “Make America Great Again” regalia popular at the inauguration, many marchers wore pink knitted caps with pointed corners and dubbed “pussyhats,” as a symbol of defiance to the new president.