NEW YORK (AP) — Tens of thousands of energized but peaceful protesters hit New York streets on Saturday in a march for women’s rights on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, pitting what one woman called “power at the polls” against an American leader she called “scary.”
The New York march, which started in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower by Central Park, was among more than 200 planned for the weekend around the world.
“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not dispirited and discouraged over having to march yet again to register our opposition to this disastrous first year of the Trump presidency,” said Peggy Taylor, a New York City tour guide and Manhattan resident.
She said that last year, she felt “a kind of euphoria” walking through the city with hundreds of thousands of participants.
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This year, “the hard reality of what lies ahead of us has sunk in,” she said. “I know that we have a long slog ahead of us to undo the damage that this man has inflicted.”
Participants, many wearing pink cat-ear hats, rallied on Central Park West and Columbus Circle before the march that ended on Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Police organized elbow-to-elbow participants behind metal barriers that reached into offshoot streets along the park, guiding them in groups toward the march downtown. But the crowds were so thick that officers started turning people away at certain entry points, telling them to try farther north. Subway stations were packed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said at least 200,000 people marched.
Organizers said they were marching because basic rights for women, immigrants and others are under attack. Among the goals of this year’s march were getting more Democrats to run for public office and bolstering voter registration.
“Power at the polls,” said a sign held by Cathy Muldoon, 52, a high school librarian from Dallas, Pennsylvania, who brought her two teenage daughters.
She said this year’s action is set against the backdrop of Trump’s presidency, which “turned out to be as scary as we thought it would be; I’ve not seen any checks and balances, everything is moving toward the right, and we have a president who seems to have no decency.”
However, she said, the march “gives us a sense that we still have some power and that there is hope.”
Thalia Friedman, an intrepid 9-year-old New York resident, held up a sign that read: “Donald Trump calls women ugly and does not deserve to be president.” Then she spoke, adding, “and he’s racist.”
Earlier Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the Women’s March Breakfast hosted by the New York City Bar Association.
“We have seen tremendous aggression and discrimination against women over this past year,” Cuomo said. “We have a federal government that’s looking to roll back women’s rights all across the board — roll back a woman’s right to choose, roll back contraceptive care, roll back insurance coverage for reproductive rights.”
The Republican president “fundamentally disrespects women,” said Cuomo, a Democrat. “And then you put him together with an extremely conservative Congress and you have seen a reversal of women’s rights.”