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Demonstrators flood Chicago for Women’s March, joining millions worldwide

%28Katie+Pach%2FDaily+Senior+Staffer%29+Protesters+hold+up+signs+at+the+Women%E2%80%99s+March+on+Chicago.+An+estimated+250%2C000+people+attended+the+march%2C+far+exceeding+the+expected+number+of+marchers.
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Demonstrators flood Chicago for Women’s March, joining millions worldwide

(Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer) Protesters hold up signs at the Women’s March on Chicago. An estimated 250,000 people attended the march, far exceeding the expected number of marchers.

(Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer) Protesters hold up signs at the Women’s March on Chicago. An estimated 250,000 people attended the march, far exceeding the expected number of marchers.

(Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer) Protesters hold up signs at the Women’s March on Chicago. An estimated 250,000 people attended the march, far exceeding the expected number of marchers.

(Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer) Protesters hold up signs at the Women’s March on Chicago. An estimated 250,000 people attended the march, far exceeding the expected number of marchers.

Kristina Karisch, Assistant City Editor

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Hundreds of thousands flocked downtown on Saturday to participate in the Women’s March on Chicago, a sister event to the national march held concurrently in Washington D.C.

Women’s Marches spread across the world the day after the inauguration, drawing over two million people total, according to USA Today. Participants came together to protest the new administration and advocate for protecting the rights of people of color, LGBTQ communities, religious minorities and people with disabilities.

Marchers carried signs representing a variety of issues and bright pink knitted “pussy hats” — a reference to a video of President Donald Trump released during the campaign, in which he talked about “grabbing (women) by the pussy.” In response, many carried signs on Saturday with the slogan, “pussy grabs back.”

In Chicago alone, organizers estimated that about 250,000 people attended the march, far surpassing the expected number of about 50,000. Around 11 a.m., organizers announced the march had reached capacity — 150,000 — but that did not deter more marchers from heading downtown and joining the rally.

“Chicago is shut down for peace,” organizers said from the stage at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive. “We have flooded Chicago!”

Due to the number of marchers, the organizers formally cancelled the walking portion of the march and encouraged attendees to rally, sing and dance in place instead.

That directive was quickly ignored, and the march proceeded peacefully west on Jackson Drive and toward Michigan Avenue, where it caught up with other marchers and headed into the Loop.

Causes represented at the march included women’s and reproductive rights, pleas to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, support for the Black Lives Matter movement, advocacy for labor unions, religious freedom, climate change.

Marchers chanted phrases like “This is what democracy looks like!”

Chicago resident Ryan Pintado-Vertner, who was one of the chanting marchers, said he came to the rally to share its message with his pre-teen son.

“I wanted to make sure that my son had a clear understanding of how people in a democracy can demonstrate power and have an influence,” Pintado-Vertner said. “I think the most important thing to do is to organize. It’s only when we take actions together as a group that we can have an impact.”

Signs carried at the march reflected the variety of issues people marched for. “Women’s rights are human rights,” one sign read. Others said, “Girls just wanna have fun-damental rights (sic)” and “Defunding our healthcare is not ‘pro-life.’”

Casse Jackson, from Champaign, Ill., marched to “defend the rights of the people who might lose their rights in this coming administration.”

“It’s really encouraging to see so many people come out and support a cause like this,” Jackson said. “We need to vote in midterms; we need to get involved in local politics and stay motivated.”

During the march, organizers and various guests spoke from the stage, sharing personal stories to empower the marchers and telling them about the causes they were supporting and representing.

In addition to the organizers and speakers, several Illinois politicians and lawmakers attended the march. From Evanston, Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) and Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) were on the stage in Chicago.

The idea for the Women’s March began on Facebook and quickly attracted widespread attention nationally and globally. In Washington alone, an estimated 500,000 people attended the March.

Evanston resident Nina Kavin traveled with more than 200 people from Evanston to Washington for the March and said it was “unbelievable.”

“It was so moving to me, and I will tell you I have cried so many times over the last 48 hours from hecticness, from exhaustion, from mixed emotions on what this trip is about and what this march was about,” Kavin said. “I’m so glad my kids got to see what peaceful people can do with their bodies and their voices.”

Trump responded to the massive marches in a tweet, calling protests a “hallmark of democracy.”

“Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views,” he said in a tweet.

Email: kristinakarisch2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @kristinakarisch

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