Women gathered at three Saturday marches — one on Long Island and two in Manhattan — to fight for their rights, some with serious or humorous signs decrying Trump administration policies, some wearing the pink hats that graced the millions who rallied after the 2017 presidential inauguration.
Turnout was much smaller than at the worldwide blockbusters two years ago due to rifts between groups over anti-Semitic and anti-gay views and forbidding weather forecasts, one organizer said. And the Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives meant, to one organizer, the battle was at least partly won.
At Port Jefferson Station's Resistance Corner, protesters’ signs said: “I will not go back to 1950” and “Medicare for All.”
Posters at Manhattan’s Central Park West rally said: “‘You’re Living in the Past; It’s A New Generation” and “The Future Is Female.”
At lower Manhattan’s Foley Square, a woman dressed as a suffragist displayed a "Rights For All Women" poster, and a group of women all carried "We Stand with Immigrants" signs.
Other cities also held rallies, including Washington, where an estimated 100,000 protesters packed several blocks around Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, holding a daylong rally that also was smaller than previous years.
Long Island march organizer Kathy Greene Lahey, of Port Jefferson, said her gathering was not taking sides in clashes over whether organizers of the first national marches had failed to disown homophobic and anti-Semitic views. “We’re not getting bogged down in divisions,” she said.
Manhattan's split marches arose partly because a founder of the original national group has praised Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. When recently questioned, Tamika Mallory, now with the Women's March Inc., said she didn't agree with Farrakhan's statements widely viewed as anti-Semitic — but she did not condemn him.
The Port Jefferson Station group registered with the national Women’s March to spread the word — only to find it had listed the wrong address on its website.
Greene Lahey credited the women’s marches and other events with expanding the ranks of women in politics since Donald Trump’s election.
“We’re here celebrating what we’ve accomplished over the past two years: taking back the House, galvanizing millions of women in the process and more representation of women across the board,” she said.
More than a hundred protesters rallied in Port Jefferson Station though that was just a fraction of the 2018 crowd and the roughly 2,000 who gathered in 2017, appalled and infuriated by Trump’s stands on abortion rights, immigration, and what seemed to some, a general disrespect of women.
Holding an American flag, sisters Susan Rudock, 70, of Port Jefferson Station, and Diane Hyde, 64, of Ronkonkoma, came partly to protest Trump’s derogatory comments. “The things he says about different religions and people’s different backgrounds are so inappropriate, and there’s no accountability for what he says,” Rudock said. “I think it’s terrible and disgusting.”
At the Central Park West rally, organized by the rival Women’s March Alliance, the NYPD’s Rodney Harrison, chief of patrol, put the crowd at 10,000. That is much lower than 200,000 in 2018 and the 400,000 who came out in 2017.
The uptown rally included two lawyers, Jacqueline Shortell-McSweeney, 75, of Sayville, and her brother Alan Shortell, of Westchester.
"I'm here to celebrate women and protesting and I'm here because Donald Trump is a bad, bad person, and I think he's a predator and a totally creepy guy and not a good president," she said.
Organizers who still support Farrakhan should resign, she said. "I think that they should really step down." And holding a competing rally is "a repugnant act that's based upon dividing women instead of bringing them together." She referred to the national group, the Women’s March Inc. The Foley Square rally was run by Women's March NYC, the city chapter of that group.
It drew about 1,500 protesters, Chief Harrison estimated.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) attended both the uptown and downtown rallies Saturday.
Groundbreaking feminist Gloria Steinem spoke at the Foley Square rally, where activist Agunda Okeyo, giving the opening speech, was briefly interrupted by a protester.
Okeyo said: "I am constantly underestimated and erased, and still I rise."
With Matthew Chayes and AP