“We haven’t seen something like this,” a University of Washington associate professor said of the demonstrations that are planned around the world, including Seattle.
Saturday’s marches around the world, including Seattle, are on track to mark the largest demonstration related to an American president’s inauguration in U.S. history.
Donald Trump will take the oath of office on Friday, in a ceremony that has laid the groundwork for his critics to organize to promote gender equality and defend marginalized groups this week. The last massive crowd that rallied against a presidential inauguration was in 1973 for Richard Nixon, drawing a fraction of what organizers expect on Saturday.
Inspired by the Women’s March on Washington in D.C. on Saturday, people in dozens of countries are planning simultaneous protests to show solidarity with American women or promote women’s rights at home, organizers say.
“This is the first time an inauguration-related protest has extended beyond D.C.,” said Margaret O’Mara, a University of Washington associate professor, who teaches 20th-century U.S. political history. “This march and its global scale … we haven’t seen something like this.”
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An estimated 214,000 people could join the D.C. march alone. For perspective, that crowd size would fill the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field three times over.
In Seattle, organizers are predicting as many as 50,000 people, which would likely follow Los Angeles for the country’s third-largest women’s march that day.
Of the country’s previous demonstrations related to a presidential inauguration, O’Mara said the Women’s Suffrage Parade of 1913 — or the “mother of them all” — found success with its timing. More than 5,000 women marched one day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, marking a milestone in the country’s path to women gaining the vote.
Spectators in the area for Wilson’s inauguration, mostly men, greatly outnumbered the marchers, O’Mara said. The onlookers surged into the streets and created chaos, violence that forced Wilson to travel on back roads and sneak around town. Some 100 marchers were taken to the hospital with injuries.
“These women were making a very public and visual statement right before this ceremonial event,” O’Mara said. “The fight for suffrage had already gone on for many decades,” but the march created momentum that helped fuel the passage of the 19th Amendment.
In 1973, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 anti-war protesters disrupted Nixon’s second inaugural for the country’s largest inauguration-related demonstration to date, The New York Times reports. Simultaneous protests took place in cities around the world, including Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo, according to inauguration historian Jim Bendat, the newspaper reports.
O’Mara said demonstrators have been a fixture on Inauguration Day since the Nixon era. George W. Bush’s 2001 swearing-in, for instance, drew a “pretty sizable” crowd, with thousands participating.
Numerous groups are planning demonstrations near Trump’s procession Friday, some of which require free-speech permits.
“In a normal election cycle, we’ll see four or five First Amendment applications,” Michael Litterst, a spokesman for the National Park Service, told The New York Times. This year, the service has received at least 20 permit requests, the newspaper reported.
People across the country started making plans to attend the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., shortly after Trump’s election, when organizers made a Facebook page for the event. “This is something that was created by social media and fueled by social media,” O’Mara said.
“If these protests on Saturday turn out to be as sizable as people expect them to be, that will send a powerful statement … that there are numbers of people who feel strongly about women’s rights, women’s issues,” and against Trump’s presidency.