By Nathan Ress
This past Saturday, January 21 — the day following the inauguration of President Donald Trump — millions of people worldwide took to the streets to voice their opposition to the hateful and derogatory rhetoric of the new president. This protest was named “the Women’s March Movement” and its flagship march took place in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, drawing an estimated crowd of at least 500,000 peacefully protesting people.
The march was organized as a grassroots movement by dozens of separate organizations, planned originally on Facebook and spread not only to many more sister organizations and marches throughout the country, but also to an estimated 3.6 – 4.6 million people worldwide; there were 168 marches in 81 countries. These worldwide marches spanned each of the seven continents, and in the United States there were 408 planned marches.
These sister marches spanned the entirety of the country, with major events taking place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, Seattle, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Portland, and Buffalo.
The march in Washington, D.C. was reported to have 500,000 people or more in attendance. Other marches sported similar or higher numbers: Los Angeles with 750,000; New York City with 450,000; and Chicago with 250,000. When added together nationally, these numbers make the National Women’s March the largest national demonstration in American history. All of this was done without a single arrest being made throughout the country.
The Griffin’s own Assistant Features Editor Abby Wojcik was in Washington, D.C. for the march with her family. She described it as “the most crowded place I have ever been,” with crowds packed shoulder-to-shoulder for entire blocks.
The rally lasted well over 6 hours, and included women, men, and children, as well as representatives from all demographics. Wojcik described the faces around her as “energetic and inspired,” as they gathered to be a part of history. Looking out over the crowd Wojcik described the scene as “just pink hats everywhere,” referring to the “pussy hats” that became a staple of the movement.
In Buffalo, an estimated 2,500-3,000 people turned out to march down Delaware avenue starting at 12:30p.m. and gathered in Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall, and the hub of Buffalo’s government. This turnout far surpassed the originally predicted number of only 1,200-1,500 people, said Jim Anderson, Board Member of Western New York Peace Center, the group that organized the event. Jim is a prominent figure in Western New York political activism, belonging to many groups as well as the WNY Peace Center. He was also an honored guest and speaker at Canisius College last semester at the Black Lives Matter forum in the Grupp Lounge.
WNY Peace Center organized the event and called it the “No Hate, No Mandate March” in cooperation with the larger Women’s March movement. The event had a wide variety of goals focused around allowing people to speak out and make their voices heard in reaction to the anger and negativity in the most recent election. Speakers and demonstrators raised points regarding women’s rights, minority rights, LGBTQ rights, religious freedom, immigration reform, healthcare reform, and environmental reform, with various speakers on the topics.
Anderson expressed his pleasure at watching the community come together and make their voices heard. Along with the nearly 3,000 demonstrators were roughly 40 police officers blocking traffic and facilitating the event. Anderson proudly stated that there were absolutely zero issues between demonstrators and officers, praising both sides for their cooperation. He called it an outstanding act of “community policing,” and added that “this is what we want to model” for future movements not only in Buffalo, but nationwide.
Mayor Byron Brown was also in attendance and spoke at the rally. He seconded Anderson’s statements regarding the success of the rally.
“Buffalo knows how to speak out,” said Brown, who added that “watching the city speak out in a peaceful way makes me very proud of the city.”
He cited not only this most recent movement, but also past movements as extremely productive. He also joined Anderson in saluting the BPD and their actions as peaceful and cooperative officers.
The event ended peacefully just after 3p.m. Saturday with people filing out of the square sporting not only protest signs and the movement’s trademark “pussy hats,” but also large smiles. The worldwide movement gave not only women, but all people the chance to speak out publicly, making their voices and positions known in a time of heightened political and social activity and attention. The city of Buffalo was proudly present among these voices, her people no small part of the chorus.