An estimated 750,000 people flood the greater downtown Los Angeles area for the 2017 Women's March
Paul Wellman

The City of Los Angeles is roughly 3.8 million people big, and it felt like a good fourth of them were packed onto downtown streets for the Women’s March on Saturday. Santa Barbara alone organized more than a thousand people to head south.

From Orange County to West L.A., the metro train and bus systems were overwhelmed with rally-goers, cheerfully upbeat about standing-room-only conditions and hour-long waits for a ride to Pershing Square. A crowd waiting for a train in Studio City that never came began a spontaneous march with hundreds of people through the city.

That optimistic spirit prevailed during the long wait for the march to begin downtown, with wall-to-wall people for over a dozen blocks surrounding the route up Hill Street to City Hall. Women wearing suffragette white swayed in a choreographed dance to drums on one street; on another choruses of “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful” rang out. Impatience turned into loud chants: “I don’t want your tiny hands, anywhere near my underpants!”; “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!”; and a well-organized crowd of men chanting “Her body, her choice!” answered by women calling “My body, my choice!”

Caitlin Fitch

For all the chaos of the unexpected multitude of people, the LAPD was notably low profile, seen only directing traffic on the outskirts. In a press release, it called the march a “joyous and peaceful” expression of First Amendments rights, with no arrests. Media spokesperson Capt. Andrew Neiman called it “the largest I have seen in my 30 years as a police officer in Los Angeles.” The Los Angeles Times reported an estimate of close to 750,000 people at the march.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin anchor the left and right sides of a "Rise Against" banner leading the Women's March in Los Angeles.
Paul Wellman

It felt like the Highway 101/405 interchange at rush hour when the march finally got underway up Hill Street, with thousands upon thousands of people attempting to merge from the side streets between 6th and 1st. It overwhelmed the area around City Hall, too, with the tail of the march stopping fast about two blocks distant. Even as some decided to head home at that point, train cars full of people were still arriving, carrying signs, wanting their voice to be heard.

Elina Hughes (center) and family were among many from the disability community at the march to support "everyone's civil rights. "It is unacceptable," they said, to see the "highest person in the land mock someone" for their abilities.
Paul Wellman

This story was assembled with contributions from Caitlin Fitch, Marianne Kuga, and Jean Yamamura.


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