It was one of the biggest marches in New York City history. Some 400,000 people attended, according to the mayor’s office, about four times more than expected. Organized by women, the majority-female crowd was there to send a message of discontent to the newly elected President Donald Trump.
Public Advocate Letitia James surveyed the turnout for the Women’s March on New York City on Saturday and was awed. “I’m just excited and thrilled and elated,” she said. “It underscores the notion that we will not be moved.”
Charging through the middle of it all was Chuck Schumer, shouting encouragement. The U.S. senator and Senate minority leader swam through the crowd, yelling “We’ll win this fight!” Down Second Avenue, across 42nd Street, up Fifth Avenue, there was Schumer, the living embodiment of political resistance to the 45th president of the United States.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Schumer had been on the dais at the presidential inauguration, the only Democrat to get a speaking spot, drawing a comparison between the tumult of the Civil War era and the political atmosphere of today. But at the march, he was back among the people. His name, shouted in question and exuberance, both announced his coming and succeeded his passage. “Is that Chuck Schumer?” asked a voice in the crowd. Another: “Schumer!” But before the marchers knew it, he was already 20 feet ahead, moving steadily toward the front of the crowd. He only stopped occasionally to step up on a metal barrier, face the crowd and shout again: “We’re gonna win this fight!” Cheers would rise, a selfie or two would be taken, and the Brooklynite was back on the move, charging again toward Trump Tower.
While moving, a short comment to this reporter: "I think there are more people here than at Trump's inauguration. That says it all.”
The march was one of many events held across the country and in cities around the world to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington. The events were organized to show both opposition to the newly inaugurated president and support for women’s rights.
While Schumer had an easy time maneuvering within the crowd, other attendees were frustrated by the march’s pace. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York City first lady Chirlane McCray and actor Melissa McCarthy joined Public Advocate James and others at the front of the march, holding a pink banner for the mayor’s office. But the march was so crowded that they moved less than one city block in an hour. Completely surrounded by stationary marchers with no clear way forward, both Maloney and McCray left the march just one block from its starting point at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson took an optimistic tone, saying she had never seen an event with such overwhelming participation. But as chairwoman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, she admitted the crowd control had room for improvement.
“It’s something we want to do better moving forward when we have other marches,” she said. “And I don’t think this will be the last. Obviously we’re on day two of this administration. I do see a lot more marches and other forms of peaceful protest, standing up for women, for children, for seniors and for all New Yorkers.”
The crowd around the politicians eventually subsided to the point where the march could move forward. People of all ages filled the street, many wearing pink and holding signs with slogans like, “When they go low, we go high” and “No more nice kitty.” Some on Second Avenue danced while marching alongside a New Orleans-style brass band, while others chanted slogans like, “This is what Democracy looks like.”
Despite the massive crowds, the NYPD reported no arrests.
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