As of Tuesday of this past week, the organizers of the Chicago Women's March reported that they expected 22,000 people. On Thursday, that number jumped to 50,000. Today, somewhere around 250,000 people showed up to express their outrage at President Donald Trump. We as a country are in deep trouble now that the reins of power have been turned over to Trump. He is in even deeper trouble: After Tump's 18- month divisive campaign, the anger in this country runs deep. People are unwilling to put up with Trump's nonsense, and today they showed it around the country and the world.
The entrance for the "parade" was moved from the periphery of Millennium Park to the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and South Columbus Drive, which is just south and east of the Art Institute of Chicago. The majority of the crowd was kept behind barricades, so the intersection was navigable on foot. At some point, the MC announced that the march to Federal Plaza had been canceled for safety considerations, so the crowd was instructed to rally in place.
Despite that announcement, people did "march," with significant portions of Wacker Drive, Michigan Avenue, and parts of the Loop shut down. Traffic came to a standstill. The police bicycle and equestrian teams were out in force, although they were not menacing given the crowd's rather carefree demeanor. People tend not to riot when they have little kids in strollers and pets bearing signs.
A photographer with one national media outlet spent most of the rally standing next to me. Toward the end, she said to me, "Why didn't we hear more speeches like that during the campaign." To a certain extent, I agree: There were a lot of different themes and styles running through the speeches. Many were powerful statements.
My personal preference is for a little less identity politics, but then again, this was the Women's March, not the "I hate Trump and His Policies March." While the marchers' concern are legitimate and need airing, I still remain concerned about foreign policy, America First, and a withdrawal from the world. I hope people in the U.S. take to the streets when Putin annexes Ukraine and Estonia, Trump and Paul Ryan eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and PBS, Trump politicizes the Federal Reserve, Trump starts a trade war, and Trump withdraws from last year's Climate Change agreement. I also hope there is a nationwide demonstration in support of the media and the First Amendment--Saturday afternoon's press briefing from Trump's new press secretary Sean Spicer was both inappropriate and disgusting. The press does not require that sort of lecture. "Alternative facts:" Give me a break.
I think it is unfortunate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not appear for the roll call of politicians. He clearly is out of favor with many in this crowd, particularly the labor unions. That does not bode well for the Democratic Party returning to power in 2020. Emanuel inherited some tough problems, including local government units that are on the verge of bankruptcy. He is a Democrat, but he is simply not in a position to open the spending spigot.
Overall, it was an inspiring day. The light was beautiful--fog the day before and fog the day after. Temperatures were in the mid-fifties. The organizers did a fabulous job of mobilizing people, which resulted in an event that countered the prior day's inauguration. Fuck Donald Trump.