Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Washington D.C. and in nearly 300 other US cities in the third annual Women’s March to protest against the policies of President Donald Trump and to stand up for women’s rights.
Organisers had hoped to see hundreds of thousands of attendees, the kind of turnout that made the first march held a day after Trump was sworn in as President on January 20, 2017, a seminal moment in the protest movement, reports The Washington Post.
But Saturday’s march appeared to attract only thousands, mirroring lower turnout at marches in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and other cities.
The main event kicked off at Freedom Plaza near the White House, where the organisers set up a stage and the along Pennsylvania Avenue, which connects the White House to the Capitol.
Many participants wore pink wool hats and carried posters with the most varied messages, such as “Take care of your own uterus”, “We demand equality for all”, and “Without Hermione, Harry (Potter) would have died in Book 1”, among others.
Saturday’s event came a day after Women’s March leaders unveiled a 10-prong political platform that the group says will outline “realistically achievable” priorities, such as raising the federal minimum wage, addressing reproductive rights and violence against women and passing the long-dormant Equal Rights Amendment.
The march however, has stirred controversy due to links between some organisers and Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has compared Jewish people to termites and called them “the mother and father of apartheid”, reports the Guardian.
Tamika Mallory, a Women’s March co-chair, was criticised after she posted a photo on Instagram of herself and Farrakhan, calling him “the GOAT” which stands for “greatest of all time”.
Mallory has since said she does not agree with all of Farrakhan’s statements but refused to condemn him.
Another incident that caused controversy is when Vanessa Wruble, an original Women’s March organiser, in December claimed Mallory and Carmen Perez, a co-president, made antisemitic comments in a meeting.
Teresa Shook, who founded the march, has called for the co-chairs to resign because they have “allowed antisemitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs”.
Rival events were also held in New York and Philadelphia, due to rifts within the movement, with organisers deciding not to hold a march at all in Chicago.