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Turnout out for Women's March Exceeds Expectations, Prompts Change of Plans

(CBSNews) So many people turned out for the Women’s March on Chicago that organizers canceled their plans to march through the city’s downtown and instead planned to extend the ongoing rally on the city’s lakefront. 

But people who turned out for the event spilled into downtown streets anyway. After the event concluded in Grant Park, people began flooding nearby streets, chanting and waving signs protesting President Donald Trump

There were estimates of 150,000 people at the park early Saturday afternoon, and more were still arriving. The march portion through downtown Chicago had originally been canceled due to safety concerns.  

The rally took place the same day as the Woman’s March on Washington and similar events in 200 cities, including Springfield and Carbondale in Illinois. Activists are talking about health care, immigrant rights and gun violence. Organizers also want to send a message to Mr. Trump that women will defend their rights. 

Dorothy DeCarlo of Chicago said she burned her bra for women’s rights 50 years ago. The 69-year-old says she can’t believe she’s protesting over the same things.

In Washington, a massive turnout also forced a change of plans. So many people packed the original route along the south side of the National Mall that organizers couldn’t lead a formal trek toward White House.

Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said on Independence Avenue, “The crowd stretches so far that there’s no room left to march.”

Instead, march organizers directed the crowd to take a new route to meet up at the Ellipse, a grassy area between the Washington Monument and the White House.

Seventy-one-year-old Allan Parachini, who traveled from Hawaii to the Washington march, called it “the most impressive crowd I’ve seen since Woodstock.”

By mid-afternoon, the scene in Washington was getting chaotic as some protesters proceeded toward the White House and the Ellipse. Instead of trekking en masse, protesters were told to head there by way of other streets. And with that, throngs surged in the direction of the White House in a chaotic scene that snarled downtown Washington. 

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald trump has got to go,” some marchers chanted. 

Women brandished signs with slogans such as “Women won’t back down” and “Less fear more love” and decried Mr. Trump’s stand on such issues as abortion, health care, gay rights, diversity and climate change. In a five-hour-plus program, speaker after speaker branded Mr. Trump a sexist, a bully, a bigot and more. 

Seas of people blocked traffic as they walked from the National Mall. On one street, a police car trying to move got stuck in the crowd. Marchers surrounded a float that had several supporters of Mr. Trump on board and chanted, “shame.” Other marchers were shouting “black lives matter” and “my body, my choice” as they moved along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. 

On the other side of the Mall, rally-goers were heading home. The line to get on the escalator at the Judiciary Square Metro station was half a city block long.

Officials said the crowd in Washington could be more than half a million people, more than double expectations.

There were early signs that the crowd could top those that gathered for Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday. City officials said march organizers had more than doubled their turnout estimate to 500,000 as crowds began swelling and subways into the city became clogged with participants. 

Figures from transportation officials in Washington also suggested more people may be on the National Mall for the women’s march than came for the inauguration. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, 275,000 people had taken trips on the city’s subway system. 
On Inauguration Day, 193,000 trips had been taken as of that time, and the rail system opened an hour earlier that day, at 4 a.m. 

Saturday’s ridership figures were more than eight times a normal Saturday and busier than most weekdays. 

In addition, some 1,800 buses were registered to park in the city. Greyhound reported adding more buses from New York. And a commuter rail system in Washington added five times its normal capacity to help deal with the crowds. The event featured a bevy of celebrities who spoke and performed for the march. It also stacked up support from some prominent politicians, including Mr. Trump’s general election opponent, Hillary Clinton. She tweeted a message of thanks to participants.

More than 600 “sister marches” were planned across the U.S. and abroad in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington, which is described on its website as “a grassroots effort comprised of dozens of independent coordinators at the state level.”

Here’s a look at some of the rallies:

Los Angeles

Thousands of women gathered in downtown Los Angeles and other cities throughout California, carrying signs and wearing pink knit hats in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. 

Demonstrators packed Los Angeles metro trains to reach the rallying site under clear blue skies Saturday morning, a day after about 2,000 people marched through a rare, ferocious rainstorm to protest Mr. Trump’s inauguration in front of City Hall. 

Saturday’s demonstrations were expected to draw much higher numbers: 94,000 people had pledged to attend the Los Angeles event online, and organizers said a roster of Hollywood celebrities including Jane Fonda and Natalie Portman were expected to participate. 

New York

Demonstrators who crammed near Trump World Tower for the Women’s March on New York City say the new president may be from there -- but he’s no New Yorker. 

“New York is a community in itself, and people care about each other, and it’s diverse,” said Ashia Badi, 44, who brought her two daughters to Midtown Manhattan to march in protest of Mr. Trump. “He doesn’t feel like he has those New York values I see.” 

New York City and state overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. 

On Saturday, thousands of people donning pink knit hats held signs that read “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Putin’s puppet.” 

Patricia Palermo, one of six women wearing surgical masks that say “save the ACA” (Affordable Care Act) said she would fight Mr. Trump’s effort to eviscerate the law. She said she met the president once doing real estate. 

New Yorkers know Mr. Trump, she said. “That’s why most New Yorkers are against him. We’ve seen him in person.” 

London

Samantha Moyo looked out at the tens of thousands of marchers sardined into London’s Trafalgar Square with a look of contentment, even bliss. 

The 30-year-old Londoner, originally from Zimbabwe, was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, and its determination to challenge Mr. Trump’s world view. 

“I’m a black, immigrant bisexual woman, and the fact that women all over the world are standing up for what they believe in, and that I was invited to be on the front line, feels like a huge privilege,” she said after helping to lead the march that snaked through central London, stopping traffic at times in the metropolis. 

“I have a feeling of love and excitement in my heart, thinking of how far we’ve come.” 

Moyo said she was initially worried about Mr. Trump’s policies but has come to believe he will inspire resistance. 

“I just feel a huge amount of celebration and optimism for the future,” she said. 

Police described the event as entirely peaceful with no arrests. 

Protesters, including many men, displayed a grab-bag of grievances about the new president’s policies. Some criticized his view on climate change and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Others cited his treatment of women and minorities.

Paris

Several thousand people, including many American workers and students living in France, gathered in the Eiffel Tower neighborhood in a joyful atmosphere. 

They sang and carried posters with slogans such as “We have our eyes on you Mr. Trump” and “With our sisters in Washington.” 

Anne Tiracchia, from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, was on vacation in France where her son lives. In French, she wrote “Let us resist the catastrophe” on a U.S. flag. 

“It’s important because Trump wants to destroy 50 years of progress, he wants to go back to smoke coming out of factories and women staying home and having babies,” Tiracchia said. “He won’t change. He doesn’t care. But we have to show we don’t agree with him.” 

More than 40 feminist and anti-racist groups organized the Paris march.

Boston

Thousands of people converged on Boston Common on Saturday to march in protest of Mr. Trump and stand in solidarity with society’s most vulnerable people. The Boston Women’s March for America was part of the nationwide series of post-inauguration marches and rallies. Organizers expected as many as 80,000 participants. 

Among the crowd were scores of women wearing pink, cat-eared, knit hats and others holding signs including one that said, “Love Not Hate Makes America Great.” 

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for challenging any Republican efforts to overturn abortion rights, take away health care from millions of Americans and tear apart immigrant families through deportation. 

“Donald Trump’s campaign was about attacks on women, attacks on African-Americans, attacks on Latinos, attacks on religious groups, attacks on immigrants,” the Massachusetts Democrat told the crowd. “We come here to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to make clear we are here, we will not be silent, we will not play dead, we will fight for what we believe in.” 

A mile-long procession was to follow several speeches. Police said the rally has been peaceful with no incidents. 

Leah Cathers, of Lowell, attended the march with her sister. She told The Boston Globe she believes the country is going in the wrong direction. 

“I’m horrified by the fact that people have forgotten that these issues are about human beings, whether it’s the Muslim population or refugees,” she said. 

Columbia, South Carolina

Rebecca Munnerlyn had never marched at the South Carolina Capitol before. But when she listened to Mr. Trump’s inaugural speech she knew she had to join thousands of other women marching Saturday. 

“His words are against women. His actions have been against women,” Munnerlyn said. “I had to come out.” 

Several thousand women filled the Statehouse steps with signs like “Make America Think Again” and “You Can’t Comb Over Sexism.” They chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “Health Care For All” before walking around the capitol grounds and to a nearby business to plan for more protests. 

Mr. Trump’s speech rekindled Munnerlyn’s worst fears about the next four years. 

“The next war won’t be started by sinking a ship. I fear it will be started by a bad tweet,” Munnerlyn said.

Trenton, New Jersey

Sarah Gospodar likened the chilly, damp rally at Trenton’s War Memorial to the civil rights marches of the 1960s, when people came together peacefully to effect change. 

“As a middle-aged black woman, I’ve seen a lot in my life - things that divided this country and things that united it,” the 53-year-old Ewing woman said. “And these issues we address today are things that should unite us. How can anyone be against equal pay and fair and equal rights for all Americans?” 

Gospodar acknowledged she’s no fan of Mr. Trump but said she will give him the chance to “show he really does want to make America great.” She said if Mr. Trump’s opponents want respect for their views, they must show the president and his backers the same respect. 

Mary Morrisey, 35, of Trenton, said she didn’t mind standing in the cold because the demonstration was an opportunity to make things better for people across the nation, especially LGBT people and minorities. She held a handmade sign that read “Girls just want to have fundamental rights.” 

“We may go about things differently, but we all want the same thing: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Morrisey said.

Sydney

Demonstrators flooded a popular central Sydney park carrying placards with slogans including “Women of the world resist,” ‘’Feminism is my trump card” and “Fight like a girl.” 

Organizer Mindy Freiband told the crowd hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems. 

“This is the beginning of something, not the end,” she said. 

Protester Alyssa Smith, who came with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, said she worried about the future after Mr. Trump’s election. She said she didn’t want her daughter growing up in the world “where hatred is commonplace.” 

Charlotte Wilde said she shed tears watching Mr. Trump get sworn in. The 33-year-old said the businessman’s rise to the presidency left her in a state of horror, and attending Saturday’s rally was a way to feel empowered. 

A plane was seen skywriting “TRUMP” over the rally. 

Skywriting Australia owner Rob Vance said the sign was commissioned by Trump fans who wanted to remain anonymous.

Park City, Utah

Charlize Theron led crowd in a chant of “Love, not hate, makes America great” on Main Street in Park City, Utah. 

Marchers there included many celebrities gathered for the Sundance Film Festival, including Chelsea Handler and Benjamin Bratt. A steady snow fell as marchers headed past one of the festival’s theatres. 

Concord, New Hampshire

At a rally in Concord, author Jodi Picoult told the crowd, “We in New Hampshire are not in the habit of going in reverse. We have the backs of those who are less fortunate - who may be struggling for health care, for environmental rights, for racial equality, for a fair wage, for justice. 

“We are in this together. And we know that change does not come from the top down, but from the bottom up.” 

Yangon, Myanmar

Dozens attended a “solidarity picnic” in Yangon, also known as Rangoon, organized by Alyssa Paylor of Colorado and other U.S. expats. 

“We’re not able to have a march in this climate, so we wanted to just gather together in solidarity with our sisters and brothers marching in Washington and all across the world because of what we believe in,” said Paylor, 26. She is in Myanmar, also known as Burma, working for an organization called Mote Oo Education for Curriculum Development. 

Paylor said Mr. Trump’s election and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote motivated people to get involved. 

“I think these things have energized a lot of people and made many people, especially women, very angry about what they may have to deal with in the coming years,” she said.

Prague

Hundreds gathered in freezing weather in a busy city square in the Czech capital of Prague, waving portraits of Mr. Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin and holding banners that read “This is just the beginning,” ‘’Kindness” and “Love.” 

“We are worried about the way some politicians talk, especially during the American elections,” organizer Johanna Nejedlova said. 

Denver

Tens of thousands of women from across Colorado gathered in Civic Center Park in Denver Saturday for a solidarity march, CBS Denver reports

The “Women’s March on Denver” got going before 10 a.m. and continued into the afternoon.  

At Colfax Avenue and Broadway women, girls — and many males, too — were filling the streets, many carrying signs. No traffic was getting through in that intersection and many others along the march route due to the large turnout of people.  

Some signs had messages about racial equality, environment, health care and unification. Others made direct references to President Donald Trump’s statements.  

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