· Published: January 23, 2017 Updated: August 03, 2017
Washington • Women, men and children, estimated at a half million, swarmed the National Mall on Saturday. Though angry, frustrated and scared, they hoped to unite together a day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office.
The massive crowd, outstripping that of Trump's inaugural, poured out on Washington in the same space where Trump supporters had rallied on Friday as the new president vowed to bring the country together.
The protest, sprinkled with pink hats and signs proclaiming Trump an illegitimate president and jabbing back at recorded remarks of him bragging about grabbing women by their genitals, brought people from across the country
"Everything he stands for, I'm against," said Lena Schwen, a Mormon and a University of Utah graduate who taught in the state before moving to Virginia.
She came, she said, "to stand up for what I believe in" and so her two special-needs sons "know what it means to be a woman."
"I'm raising my sons not to be p---y grabbers," she said. "We're not going to stand for a nasty president."
On Trump's first full day in office, the scene just down the street from his new home showed how divided the country remains.
"I'm hurt. I'm disappointed and I want to be with people who are like-minded, who feel the same way," said Gabrielle Crowley, who grew up in Sandy. "Trump does not represent what I believe."
Former state Rep. Jennifer Seelig, of Salt Lake City, said she came to the march not to dispute the election results but to add "my vision to what we are as a nation and community going forward."
People might say the protesters are whining, she said, but "I'm not quite sure when exercising First Amendment rights became whining. ... It's imperative that we show up and engage in the system."
Officially titled the Women's March on Washington, the crowd included not only women but men and kids, of all different races.
The grass-roots gathering, started with small Facebook pages, snowballed into an ocean of people stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, overwhelming transit systems and leaving police struggling to close off streets and manage the influx.
The crowd was so large that even with JumboTrons and speakers spread throughout, many couldn't see or hear what was happening onstage.
"It's Elizabeth Warren," said one woman.
"No, it's not," responded another.
Hillary Clinton, the vanquished Democratic nominee for president, offered her support on Twitter, thanking participants for "standing, speaking & marching for our values."
"I truly believe we're always stronger together," she wrote, using her campaign slogan.
Other speakers were more pointed.
"For those who said this march wouldn't turn into anything, f--- you," the singer Madonna said.
Gloria Steinem, a star of the feminist movement, told the crowd – those who could hear her – that the movement needed to continue.
"This is the upside of the downside," she said. "This is an outpouring of democracy like I've never seen in my very long life."
"Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are," she added.
While violent protests broke out in Washington on Friday after Trump took office, Saturday's gathering was largely peaceful. Remnants of Trump's inauguration remained on the Mall, taken over by folks who detested his ascendance to power.
Richard Healy, who grew up in Alpine and now lives in the Washington area, said he had the right to be angry.
"We cannot forget the majority still has a powerful voice," he said, noting that Clinton actually won the popular vote in the presidential election. "There's no room for bullies in America."
While upset, the crowd attempted to remain jubilant. One group broke out a spontaneous rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." A woman with a ukulele performed for weary attendees.
And a chant echoed down the Mall.
"This is what America looks like," the crowd said. "This is what America looks like."
Utahns at the march
Among the thousands who packed the National Mall were Utahns who'd traveled across the country to make their voices heard. Gold was a theme for Utah's attendees — some wore sequined shorts and leggings, or wrapped gold tinfoil sheets around them as blankets, belts, sashes and capes.
• Kate Kelly — who had lobbied for women to gain LDS Church priesthood and was later excommunicated — wore a pair of gold boxing gloves around her neck.
"For me, it's really powerful to join my voice with hundreds of thousands of other women," said Kelly, 36. "It makes me feel not so alone."
• "In 2017, it'd be a real shame if we went backward and not forward," said Kathryn Jones-Porter,30, from Salt Lake City. She had clipped a beehive charm to her pink hat to represent Utah, and a female symbol was painted in gold on her face. "This is probably the most important thing I'll do in my life. If we're not present, there's nothing that's pushing back against the misogyny. We elected somebody into office that normalized sexual violence. That's horrifying."
• Trump has incited more hate against Muslims, said 24-year-old Halima Noor.The Salt Lake City woman, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, said she's seen an increase in hate recently. "At the store, I get looked at more. I get told to go back where I came from." She was born and raised in the U.S.
• "It was kind of disheartening that Trump won when Utah had Evan McMullin," said Courtney Jones,who came from Bountiful with a group of other Davis County women. Jones, 31, is LDS and said she doesn't want her two kids to see how Trump treats women.
• Kerry Spencer,38, came from Salt Lake City with her daughter Lily, who's 10 and had donned a gold plastic cape. "I felt like it was important to bring my daughter," said Kerry. "She needs to start standing up for things now." Both wore pink hats that Kerry had crocheted, adding red hearts to the corners.
• "I wanted to come to express my voice as a woman that I have worth," said Lara Johnson,a 32-year-old Mormon woman from Farmington. She said things need to be overcome in "a loving way. I'm tired of hatred."
• Erin Blake,of Farmington, attended with Johnson and Jones. "I'm here because Donald Trump was elected president," said the 37-year-old. "I don't want to stand by and let his hatred win."