US marches for women’s
rights slam Trump, encourage voting
By SANDY COHEN, VERENA DOBNIK AND TAMARA LUSH
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Demonstrators from Los Angeles to New York marched in support of female empowerment and denounced President Donald Trump’s views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights and women’s rights on Saturday, the anniversary of his inauguration.
People marched in Casper, Wyoming, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Houston. In Park City, Utah, where the annual Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, actress Jane Fonda and nationally known attorney Gloria Allred joined the women’s march.
In Morristown, New Jersey, that state’s new first lady told a crowd she was a victim of sexual violence while attending college.
Tammy Murphy, the wife of Democrat Phil Murphy, said the attack occurred while she was a sophomore at the University of Virginia. She said she was walking along a path when a man grabbed her and pulled her into some bushes. She said the man tried to take her clothes off and put a crab apple in her mouth to silence her but she bit his hand and fled half-dressed to a nearby fraternity house, where students called police.
In Los Angeles, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard, Scarlett Johansson, Constance Wu, Adam Scott and Rob Reiner were among the celebrities who addressed a crowd of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.
Longoria, who starred in TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” told marchers their presence matters, “especially when those in power seem to have turned their backs on reason and justice.”
Portman, an Academy Award winner, talked about feeling sexualized by the entertainment industry from the time her first film, “Leon: The Professional,” was released when she was 13 and suggested it’s time for “a revolution of desire.” In the 1994 film, Portman played a young girl taken in by a hit man after her family is killed.
Woodard urged everyone to register and vote, saying, “the 2018 midterms start now.” And Davis spoke with the passion of a preacher as she discussed the nation’s history of discrimination and her past as a sexual assault survivor.
The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those opposing Trump’s views, words and actions. Millions of people around the world marched during last year’s rallies, and many on Saturday talked about the news avalanche of politics and gender issues in the past year.
Critics of the weekend’s marches said the demonstrations were really a protest against Trump. More rallies were planned at other cities on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Trump on Saturday tweeted that it was a “perfect day” for women to march to celebrate the “economic success and wealth creation” that’s happened during his first year in office.
“Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months,” the Republican wrote. “Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”
Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democratic former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton, said the Women’s March last year was “a beacon of hope and defiance.”
“In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere,” she tweeted, urging people to show that power at the voting booth this year.
Demonstrators on Saturday denounced Trump’s views with colorful signs and even saltier language.
Oklahoma City protesters chanted “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” One woman donned a T-shirt with the likeness of social justice icon Woody Guthrie, who wrote “This Land Is Your Land.”
Members of the group Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Seattle burned sage and chanted in front of Seattle’s rainy march.
In Richmond, Virginia, the crowd burst into cheers when a woman ran down the middle of the street carrying a pink flag with the word “Resist.”
The march in Washington, D.C., on Saturday took on the feel of a political rally when U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, both Democrats, urged women to run for office and vote to oppose Trump and the Republicans’ agenda.
“We march, we run, we vote, we win,” Pelosi said, to applause.
People gathered from Montpelier to Milwaukee, from Shreveport to Seneca Falls.
“I think right now with the #MeToo movement, it’s even more important to stand for our rights,” said Karen Tordivo, who marched in Cleveland with her husband and 6-year-old daughter.
In Palm Beach, Florida, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, several hundred people gathered carrying anti-Trump signs before marching. A group of women wearing red cloaks and white hats like the characters in the book and TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale” marched in formation, their heads bowed.
Cathy Muldoon, a high school librarian from Dallas, Pennsylvania, took her two teenage daughters to the New York rally and said marching gives people hope. She said this year’s action is set against the backdrop of the Trump presidency, which “turned out to be as scary as we thought it would be.”
“I’ve not seen any checks and balances,” she said. “Everything is moving toward the right, and we have a president who seems to have no decency.”
Earlier Saturday, dozens of activists gathered in Rome to denounce violence against women and express support for the #MeToo movement. They were joined by Italian actress and director Asia Argento, who made headlines after alleging in 2017 she had been sexually assaulted by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s.
Argento addressed the criticism she received once she spoke up about her abuse.
“Women are scared to speak, and because I was vilified by everything I said, I was called a prostitute for being raped,” she said at the rally.
Argento, who’s 42, was strongly criticized by many Italian media and Italian women for not speaking out earlier and was hounded on Twitter with accusations that she sought trouble.
Weinstein has apologized for causing “a lot of pain” with “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past,” but he has denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”
Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Dobnik reported from New York.
This story has been corrected to show that the Chicago event participant’s surname is Mirza, not Miza, and that millions of people, not 1 million, marched last year.