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Hundreds of thousands of men and women descended into the nation’s capital, meeting in the national mall on Saturday, to show their support for women’s rights a day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. Some voiced their opposition to the new president. An estimated 500,000 people attended the massive march, D.C.'s deputy mayor for public safety and justice said, citing the event's organizers.
Those who participated in the Women’s March on Washington said the event was much more peaceful and positive than the protests during Friday’s inauguration.
D.C. police said they had no reports of arrests as of 6 p.m. on Saturday, a stark contrast to Friday’s anti-Trump protest that saw 230 people arrested, the windows of businesses smashed and a limo torched. Witnesses said self-described anarchists were behind some of Friday's violence.
"This is not about people doing stupid stuff and getting arrested," said Robin Gilmore, a 56-year-old therapist who drove up from Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday. "Really, the police are cooperating. This couldn’t happen without police cooperation."
Marchers reported that police were civil and participants were kind to one another, often looking after each other in the dense crowd. People were elbow-to-elbow and some said they couldn’t move for hours.
Steve La Croix traveled from Seattle to Michigan, where he met members of his family. They rented and drove a bus overnight to the Women’s March. He said that the atmosphere was collegial and participants were considerate.
"People were very polite," La Croix said. "There was a lot of 'Go ahead' or 'You first.'"
One criticism of the march has been that it seemed to have scattered ideas and took up too many issues, but those who were at the Women’s March said that is part of building a coalition.
Dana Gwinn, 36, traveled to the march from the Bay Area and said, though there were numerous ideas, she believed it important to discuss all of them.
"There were a lot of messages," Gwinn said. "I felt today like I felt on election night. I want to be mad about 15 different things, and everyone says you need to choose what your battle is going to be and stick to that one thing.
"But I don’t know anyone willing to choose."
Kristen Kramer, 29, a D.C. resident who lives close to where a limo was set on fire by protesters on Friday, said the march was very polite compared to the inauguration, which she described as a "surreal" environment. But Kramer didn’t think the civility was necessarily a good thing.
"It is really polite, and it kind of pisses me off to be honest," she said. "Considering how the police yesterday became incredibly aggressive, it feels like this today is lip service to protest."
She described protests on Friday as largely peaceful assemblies that suffered from a few violent individuals. Kramer thought the police treated protesters at the inauguration poorly and saw demonstrators suffering severely from pepper spray.
"I hope people don't just forget yesterday," she said. “I don’t know what will come of it legally, but for it just to disappear is not okay."
The marches were not confined to Washington. An estimated 400,000 people marched in New York City, 250,000 marched in Chicago, over 100,000 marched in Los Angeles, more than 90,000 ink St. Paul, Minnesota, and 60,000 turned out in Atlanta among other cities around the world, authorities and organizers said.