Womens March

‘Everything Is on the Line': Crowds Parade Through DC for Women's March

Marches are focused on "building and mobilizing the political power of women," executive director says

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The Women's March brought crowds of people downtown Washington, D.C., to the Supreme Court Saturday during part of a national day of protests.

The march is typically held in January, but organizers said they felt compelled to schedule Saturday's march in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the contentious battle over filling her seat.

Crowds marched to Freedom Plaza and the Supreme Court, with many voicing their opinions through chants, speeches or signs about issues that have dominated headlines — including racial justice and Ginsburg's death — ahead of the presidential election.

Numerous women and girls in the crowd paid tribute to Ginsburg by dressing in black judge's robes or adorning themselves with lace collars, an accessory the late judge was known for.

One sign showed an image of Ginsburg on a pink background and said, "march to honor her seat."

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"It is not hyperbole to say that everything is on the line this November," said Jenny Lawson of Planned Parenthood Votes.

A group of women arrived dressed in red cloaks emulating those seen in the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale," based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian book about fertile women enslaved by a military dictatorship. Some carried signs calling for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to be voted out of office.

"We refuse to accept a fascist America," members of the group chanted.

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NeeNee Taylor, a core organizer for Black Lives Matter DC, spoke in favor of D.C. statehood and defunding the police.

While Women's March activists spoke out at Freedom Plaza, a counterprotest formed. Demonstrators rallied in support of Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, and called their gathering the March for All Women.

"Fill the seat! Fill the seat," they chanted while holding signs saying "confirm Barrett."

About 1 p.m., protesters began marching up Pennsylvania Avenue, around the Capitol and past the Supreme Court, where they stopped and a speaker denounced Barrett's nomination.

The group planned to go to the National Mall, where there will be speeches and a call to action, and where activists will be texting women around the country to urge them to vote.

Although the permit issued for the march listed an estimate 10,000 attendees, organizers expect the actual numbers to be much smaller due to COVID-19. They're asking people not to travel to D.C. if they live in one of the 31 states that D.C. considers a hot spot.

Mobilizing voters in the upcoming election was another major aim of organizers.

"Our single issue for all of the years has always been building and mobilizing the political power of women," Women's March Executive Director Rachel O'Leary Carmona said. "And it's crystal clear that women are going to decide this election."

That’s one reason there will be smaller protests across the country in more than 350 cities, including other protests in our region.

"Those are very diverse as well. Some of them are virtual ... one is a march from Ruth Bader Ginsburg's college dorm room to a state capitol; one is a caravan of golf carts," said O'Leary Carmona.

Organizers and police are aware of groups calling for counter protests.

The first Women's March came the day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office in 2017. Millions of peaceful protesters, many wearing the now-famous pink hats, flooded D.C. streets.

Amid a pandemic, Saturday's march looked vastly different. Organizers said they required masks and social distancing and would provide hand sanitizer stations.

While many participants wore masks, there appeared to be little social distancing.

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