WASHINGTON: Thousands took to the streets across the United States for women’s marches on Saturday (Oct 17), many wearing pink protest hats while issuing fervent calls against President Donald Trump and his conservative Supreme Court pick.
The rallies ahead of the Nov 3 election were inspired by the first Women’s March in Washington, a huge anti-Trump rally held a day after his 2017 inauguration.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demonstrations on Saturday were considerably smaller, though protesters still turned out in cities across the country, according to organisers.
More than 100,000 people took part in about 430 marches in locations from New York to Los Angeles and Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, organisers said.
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They urged people worried about in-person participation to join in a “socially distant text-banking telethon” aimed at sending 5 million messages encouraging people to vote.
Marchers also paid tribute to late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – an icon for women and progressives – while protesting Trump’s choice of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her.
Barrett has made no secret of her strong Catholic beliefs, raising concerns that a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives could overturn abortion rights if she is confirmed by the Senate.
Trump and his fellow Republicans are seeking to fast-track her nomination before the election, a process that began this week and which has drawn sharp controversy.
The protest route in Washington started near the White House before heading to the US Capitol and the Supreme Court building, where a smaller “I’m With Her” counterprotest – in Barrett’s favor – was held.
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Most marchers in Washington wore face masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, with some dressed as Ginsburg in black robes with white lace collars, and many wore the knitted pink hats made famous by the original march.
A number of protesters dressed in red robes and white bonnets, portraying characters forced to bear children in the dystopian novel and television series The Handmaid’s Tale.
Signs and banners underscored the broader anti-Trump message: “Trump/Pence: Out Now,” read one, while others simply said, “Dump Trump”.
In New York, about 300 people gathered at Manhattan’s Washington Square, many with pink hats and signs supporting Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden or honoring Ginsburg. It was one of five separate marches in the city.
“It’s really important to be here and try to encourage people to vote out Trump and his misogynistic policies, especially now, with Covid, when a lot of people are isolated,” said Yvonne Shackleton, a 47-year-old working mother from near Albany, about a three-hour drive from New York City.
A similar number of people gathered in Brooklyn, Ginsburg’s hometown, with one protester’s sign reading: “Ruth Sent Us.”
“I’m out here because it’s so important that people vote and I’m telling people to vote blue for Biden and (running mate Kamala) Harris because Trump has been a disaster for our country,” said Wendy Sacks, a 67-year-old vintage jewelry seller.
Mask-wearing protesters marched in Chicago with the same message, banging drums and chanting for Trump’s defeat.
Trump’s support from women has dropped sharply – particularly among those living in the suburbs. He now trails Biden among likely women voters by 23 points, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.