Hundreds of thousands of protesters spearheaded by women’s rights groups converge on Washington Saturday to send a defiant message to America’s new president, Donald Trump.
The flag-waving crowds who turned out to cheer Trump’s inauguration will make way for a coalition of protesters who fear an erosion of women’s rights under the new Republican administration.
Powered by social media, the “Women’s March on Washington” aims to draw 200,000 people, illustrating the divisions of a country whose incoming leader faces levels of public mistrust unseen in recent decades.
Trump’s inaugural speech on Friday set the tone for his presidency: proudly populist, fiercely nationalist and determined to break with the legacy of his Democratic predecessor.
His first act in office — signing an executive order aimed at freezing Barack Obama’s signature health care law, before it is eventually repealed — was a potent gesture in that direction, with more such actions expected to follow on Monday.
Trump’s official schedule for Saturday, his first full day in the world’s most powerful job — includes just one engagement, a multi-faith service at Washington National Cathedral at 9:30 am (1430 GMT).
But less than 24 hours after entering the White House, Trump will be faced with a show of force by demonstrators united by a common dread of what his presidency holds in store.
Backed by celebrity participants including Scarlett Johansson and Michael Moore, Saturday’s march comes on the heels of a first day of anti-Trump protests marred by sporadic outbreaks of vandalism, with windows smashed downtown and more than 200 people arrested.
Authorities will be on alert for any new flare-up of violence — although the stated goals of the women marchers are resolutely peaceful.