Women’s March stretches from Central District to the Seattle Center — UPDATE: 120,000

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A defiant and very pink wave or marchers stretched from the Central District to the Seattle Center as women from across the region — and womxn and those who love them all — stood up and hit the streets for reproductive, immigrants, and LGBTQ rights Saturday.

It looked like early estimates of up to 50,000 marchers could have been accurate as the first columns of people arrived at the Seattle Center as the tail end of participants was still leaving the morning rally site at Judkins Park, more than three miles away. UPDATE: The unofficial estimate being used by police is 120,000 people participating in the Seattle march.

“You would not believe the view from up here. It’s nothing but nasty women and pussyhats,” Chris Charbonneau of Planned Parenthood said in her time at the speakers platform to fire up the crowd as thousands gathered Saturday morning.

Charbonneau warned about the Trump administration’s approach to women’s health.

“They intend to not worry a lot about the lack of pap smears, the affordable contraceptive care, cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases…” Charbonneau said, “and they must be stopped.”

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Saturday’s massive rally and march followed marches and protests Friday that have been spirited but mostly peaceful with few arrests. Police are investigating a shooting at a protest outside an appearance by a right-wing, pro-Trump speaker at the University of Washington.

Organizers preached patience at Saturday’s event as huge crowds made their way to the Central District park from all directions for the rally before even more slowly filing out for the march to the Seattle Center.The repeated call from speakers was usefully calming and chant-like: “And still I rise…” Streets in the area were tied up by traffic as pedestrians spilled into streets making their way around Judkins Park. Buses serving the area were filled to the brim. Those coming from farther away faced bigger challenges with reports of bus riders giving up on waiting for an open coach and trying to hitch a ride to the Central District. Lyft and Uber systems both snapped into premium pricing and systems like Car2Go showed a massive cluster of cars ringing Judkins but none available elsewhere in the city.

Other speakers included executive director of the Chief Seattle Club Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and 37th District state senator Rebecca Saldana.

Aneelah Afzali of the American Muslim Empowerment Network urged the crowd to fight for more than women’s rights.

“Up to 30% of slaves brought from Africa were Muslim,” she said. “Today, over 50,000 American Muslims are doctors saving lives every day. The rest of us are lawyers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, volunteers and other positive contributors to our communities.”

“But this reality is distorted through falsehoods and fear mongering,”Afzali continued. “Well-funded anti-Muslim hate groups have spent over $200 million to demonize Islam and Muslims. Most Americans don’t personally know a Muslim and it’s easy to dehumanize a minority you don’t know. Islam is also the most mentioned religion in mainstream media and according to research most of that coverage is defamatory.”

Charbonneau also sounded a warning — for the Trump administration.

“Some of us here today are becoming active for the first time,” she said. “And many others have been fighting for justice all their lives whether they wanted to or not because of their skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. But today we are all here together. And together we’ll harness this energy and create a unified front against hate or intolerance.”

“An action against any of us is an action against all of us,” Charbonneau said.

CORRECTION 1/24/2017: In our original report, CHS mistakenly attributed a quote from Chris Charbonneau to Aneelah Afzali of the American Muslim Empowerment Network. We have corrected the mistake and added new reporting on Afzali’s speech. We apologize for the error.

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18 thoughts on “Women’s March stretches from Central District to the Seattle Center — UPDATE: 120,000

  1. It was somewhat shocking that Metro didn’t appear to be running extra buses today — just a normal Saturday schedule, at least on the 8. The buses that went by were so crowded they couldn’t even stop.

    I finally just gave up and walked the 45 minutes to Judkins Park!

    • It looked like the 48 bus service was doubled-up this morning judging by the service updates, but I didn’t exactly stand outside to watch the buses go by.

  2. Even the Link Lite Rail was severely over capacity today and they were running nothing but 3 car trains all day. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that today’s event pushes Link rail service past it’s prior record of ~100k for a Huskie game…

    Seattle is such a wonderful and inclusive city :-)

  3. Love seeing the numbers but was disappointed to see how white the march was. Not sure how ‘defiant’ I’d see it was either, given that organizers decided to buy a permit and walk along a route determined by the city/police.

    • As a participant, I was impressed by the diversity of the crowd; it was extremely representative of the racial makeup of the city.

    • Easton, I’m sorry that you were disappointed in an extremely well attended, law abiding (permitted), police assisted (traffic control & safety for marchers), relatively peaceful (no significant injuries/little property damage) march of 150,000 of your fellow citizens.
      Sorry there were so many people of non-color.

    • I think requiring people to PAY to enjoy freedom of assembly is beyond the pale of what can be considered appropriate restriction on the first amendment in this system.

    • Easton, I’d like to see some kind of clear statement of what you think the organizers should have done differently to attract even more people of color.

      I’m all ears and seriously open to learning.

      In the absence of that, reading comments like the above (and you are far from the only one to make it) frustrate me, as they feel a bit passive-aggressive.

    • I should have phrased my initial comment differently. I wasn’t blaming organizers for having a more diverse crowd (although starting it closer to Rainier Beach would have helped), I was more venting frustration at policies that have pushed minorities from Seattle’s central areas. I certainly wasn’t trying to be passive-aggressive, just frustrated at manifestations of a broken system – I still think it’s crazy to have to pay to exercise your first amendment to march.

    • I am very sorry for the mistaken attribution. You’ll notice there was very little reporting across Seattle media on the pre-march speakers. It was a difficult but exciting challenge to cover! Very sad to have made such a large error in the middle of it. I have corrected the attribution and added new reporting on your speech. Thank you for helping lead on Saturday and thanks for reaching out. I’ve read through your Facebook posting and will take the criticisms to heart and urge my counterparts in the media to do the same.

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