Across the Northwest on Saturday, women’s marches and rallies drew thousands, some protesting President Donald Trump and his policies, while others promoted unity or the fight against racism, sexism and hate.
Demonstrators in cities including Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, Portland and Boise wore pink “pussyhats” and waved signs proclaiming: “You belong,” “Love Trumps hate,” or “My uterus will fight you.”
In Seattle, police estimated as many as 120,000 participated in the march. That would surpass the WTO protests in 1999 and make it one of the largest political demonstrations in the city’s history.
The turnout for the march in Olympia was estimated at 10,000.
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The Seattle event began with a rally at Judkins Park in the city’s Central District and was followed by a march of about 3.6 miles to Seattle Center. Marchers filled a 10-block radius.
The Rev. Linda Hart of the Tacoma’s Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation led several church members to Seattle for the event.
By 2 p.m., three hours after the march started, Hart’s group had just reached the International District, not even halfway through.
“We are close to the back,” she told The News Tribune by phone.
Hart described the crowd as “kind and friendly.”
“It’s awesome,” she said. “The energy in the crowd is good. It’s hopeful and positive and noisy.”
Hart said she was tired but feeling hopeful.
“I’m feeling very energized about the work we have ahead of us,” she said, including advocating for people in the LGBTQ community and others who might feel threatened by the Trump administration. “We have to speak up for the things that matter to us.”
Kris Blondin of Tacoma and Trish Huff of Gig Harbor attended the march with two friends.
“I just wanted to be part of something historic,” Blondin said. “I’m tired of being passive and griping on Facebook.”
Huff marched for rights. Everyone’s rights.
“Everyone should have the same opportunities and freedoms all over the nation and all over the world,” she said.
The four women parked at Seattle Center, the end point of the march.
“First we opened up a bottle of sparkling pink wine,” said Blondin, the owner of Stink deli and El Tufo Wine Bar in Tacoma.
The four women took an Uber to Judkins Park, the start of the march. Many others had the same idea.
“It cost me $70 to get 3.5 miles to the park,” Blondin said.
When they got there, the park was a sea of pink hats.
The march moved at a snail’s pace, Blondin said.
“It was just too massive,” she said. “The streets could not hold the volume of people.”
Huff called the day peaceful and inspiring.
“It was wonderful to see men, women, children, families … all coming together with the same kind of message,” she said.
Among marchers in Olympia was Mary Tanasse. When the 87-year-old was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, she had one goal: She wanted to be part of Saturday’s march.
She was, joined by about 35 family members, some of who flew in from Michigan and California.
“I’ve been waiting 87 years to do this and I made it,” Tanasse said. “I’m on hospice, but I still made it.”
Tanasse said a desire for equality drew her to the march. She hopes her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have access to equal pay, quality health care and a good education.
Before the march began, a sea of umbrellas and pink “pussyhats” covered the Capitol lawn, and marchers continued to pour in from all sides as speakers addressed the crowd.
Many marchers carried signs printed with messages about women’s rights and Trump. Several people carried rainbow flags.
One speaker, Black Alliance of Thurston County co-founder Karen Johnson, urged the crowd not to be apathetic and to instead keep working toward equality and justice.
“Sexism and racism are still alive, but they will only live if you allow them to,” Johnson said.
Olympia resident Karen Reese said she made six pussyhats while watching MSNBC show host Rachel Maddow.
“I’m female, I’m Native American, and this is my country,” Reese said. “I don’t want things to change, to get worse. We’ve worked too hard to get where we are.”
The march ended at the Capitol steps, where more speakers addressed the crowd. Organizers passed around pink goblets to collect money to test untested rape kits.
As the event wound down, the group chanted, “We are one!”
News Tribune and Olympian staff writers Craig Sailor, Adam Lynn and Amelia Dickson contributed to this report, along with The Seattle Times and The Associated Press.