WASHINGTON — Less than 24 hours after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, protesters gathered just steps away from the Capitol, where the ceremony was held. According to various reports, an estimated 500,000 people showed up for the Women’s March on Washington, some of whom were Ohio State students.
The march was not limited to women, and was organized around a variety of women’s and liberal issues, as well as a show of opposition toward Trump. Washington’s march was matched by similar marches held around the country Saturday, and one held in Columbus last week. Some students held a walk-out on the OSU campus on Friday.
“A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to be a woman,” said Ellen Williams, a fourth-year in social work, who attended the march. “I’m really passionate about (issues concerning) domestic violence, and sexual assault, and I just want women to be treated with respect and with dignity.”
Williams, who left for Washington on a bus from Columbus at 1 a.m. on Saturday, said she was worried about Trump’s behavior toward women, which she called “sickening.”
Marchers highlighted a diverse set of issues. Signs ranged from pointing out issues such as everyday sexism to women’s empowerment and major policy proposals, such as health care or abortion access. Many played off Trump’s leaked hot-mic comments from a taping of Access Hollywood in which he spoke of grabbing women “by the pussy.” Other protesters focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, Islamophobia and economic inequality.
Protesters gathered near the Capitol around 10 a.m., and a rally was held with prominent liberal activists such as Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, as well as celebrities such as Michael Moore and Scarlett Johansson.
Organizational difficulties during the rally led to at least one section of protesters separated from the main stage, with a screen to project the rally’s speakers and musical acts, but no sound. The large number of speakers and lack of direction led to a sense of restlessness and cheers of “Let’s march now” as the rally continued into the early afternoon. Several in attendance left before the march started.
At about 2:15 p.m., thousands of protesters started marching down an ad-hoc route through the National Mall, as speakers tried to continue the rally, before the crowds made their way to the march route on Constitution Avenue Northwest.
Due to the amount of protestors — double the amount that had been expected, according to media reports — the march’s route had to be altered to accommodate the larger crowd. The original route had protesters marching to the White House but they were met with barricades and several droves of police. The closest protesters were able to get to the White House was Lafayette Square, a park just north of the presidential residence.
Mark Pauley, a fourth-year in political science and international studies, said the march was historically significant.
“I’ve never been to anything like this because I really don’t think there’s been anything like this in modern history of the U.S.,” Pauley said. “But as far as activism goes I haven’t been to many events like this and, as I’m nearing my graduating point, I took a step back and realized I wanted to transition to that.”
Protesters used chants often found on campus protests in Columbus, including “The people, united, will never be defeated.” At one point, chants of former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan “Yes We Can” echoed off the walls of buildings.
The significance of the protest’s timing — one day after Trump’s inauguration — was not lost on protesters as they chanted “We will not go away, welcome to your first day.”
At Lafayette Square, where some protesters found themselves six to seven hours after they had showed up for the start of the protest, signs were left on police barricades in view of the White House.
“Feminism Is …” read one of the signs, leaving the answer blank, though marchers brought about a half a million different definitions to fill it in.