Women lead huge rights protests across US, globe
WASHINGTONLed by women in pink “pussy hats,” hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets of Washington and other cities in the United States on Jan. 21 in a massive outpouring of defiant opposition to America’s hardline new president, Donald Trump.
Roused by fiery speeches, the women sent out a resounding message of resistance and activism the day after Trump took office with a vow to roll back the policies of former president Barack Obama.
A tide of women and men - teens, pensioners, parents with toddlers on their shoulders - swelled into the streets around the National Mall for hours before flowing towards the White House in a determined show of unity.
“Women won’t back down,” “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Thank you Trump - you turned me into an activist,” read some of the thousands of handmade signs held aloft in the capital.
“I know that we can do better, we have to fight for the change we want to see,” said Michelle Phillips, a 45-year-old recent American citizen, who told AFP she came to take a stand against what she called Trump’s “platform of hate and bigotry.”
Although the U.S. capital does not release crowd counts, organizers of the main protest, the Women’s March on Washington, told AFP they estimated turnout at one million - quadrupling initial expectations - with some 600 sister protests held around the globe.
More than half a million people packed the streets of Los Angeles, according to police there, and similar numbers gathered in New York.
Some 400,000 marchers assembled in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, though organizers put the number there at 600,000.
Other marches took place in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, St. Louis, Denver and elsewhere.
The call was heard far beyond U.S. shores, with organizers saying over 2.5 million people signed up online to take part in one of more than 600 marches being held worldwide, from Paris to Prague, Sydney to Johannesburg, and in some 20 cities across Canada.
One of the largest was in London, where tens of thousands of women, men and children marched chanting “Dump Trump” and waving banners “Our Rights Are Not Up For Grabs - Neither Are We.”
Many wore knitted pink cat-eared “pussy hats,” an appropriated reference to Trump’s boast in a 2005 video made public weeks before the election about grabbing women’s genitals.
The tide of women in knitted pink hats appeared to dwarf the throngs of Trump supporters in red “Make America Great Again!” caps who the day before had cheered the Republican’s swearing-in.
Trump’s defeated rival Hillary Clinton tweeted her support to the crowds massed around Washington’s National Mall, as actresses, feminists and liberal politicians took the stage to vow resistance to Trump.
“Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values, @womensmarch. Important as ever. I truly believe we’re always Stronger Together,” Clinton said.
Former secretary of state John Kerry was spotted in the crowd - a day after leaving office - with his dog on a pink leash.
As a sea of demonstrators brought downtown Washington to a standstill, streaming past the White House in a joyous parade, Trump launched a withering attack on the media, accusing it of downplaying attendance at his swearing-in a day earlier.
Trump did not acknowledge the mass protests that marked his first full day in office.
But their scale illustrated the depth of resistance to the Republican hardliner, who many fear will roll back the rights of women, immigrants and minorities.
For his first full day in the world’s most powerful office, Trump attended a multi-faith service at Washington National Cathedral. He later visited the headquarters of the CIA, an agency he feuded with bitterly before taking office.