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Day Without a Woman rally leads to arrests on International Women’s Day, cops say

A woman is arrested in Manhattan's Columbus Circle

A woman is arrested in Manhattan's Columbus Circle during the A Day Without a Woman rally on March 8, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

At least 13 people were arrested during the A Day Without a Woman rally outside of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan Wednesday afternoon, police said, as New Yorkers marked International Women's Day at events around the city.

Photos from the rally show protesters sitting in the middle of Columbus Circle, blocking traffic as they are surrounded by police officers. Charges against the protesters are pending, an NYPD spokesman said.

Organizers of the Women's March posted a photo to Twitter showing as many as five women in the back of what appeared to be a police van.

"Some of us have been arrested #DayWithoutAWoman," the Women's March tweeted.

The Day Without a Woman rally started around noon at the corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, near Central Park, before the crowd moved west a few blocks toward Columbus Circle and Trump International Hotel and Tower.

The strike was meant to highlight the economic power and significance of women, while calling attention to the many injustices endured by women and gender non-conforming people. It was in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike, planning for which began in October after strikes by women in Poland and Argentina. Women in over 30 countries were expected to participate.

Organizers asked women to do one or all of the following: Take the day off work, avoid shopping except at small, women- and minority-owned businesses, and wear red. Men were also encouraged to participate by wearing red, providing support to the women in their lives and advocating for women’s rights in the workplace.

Sierra Zamarripa, 26, the owner and creative director of Lovewild Design in Bushwick, closed her business Wednesday so she and her two employees — one of whom is her mother — could observe the strike.

“I want to keep the momentum going,” from the Women’s March on Jan. 21, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, she said.

“We are privileged to do this. Plenty of people would like to be on strike” but cannot do so, added Zamarripa, who lives on the Lower East Side.

The strike was one of several events planned on International Women's Day, which finds its own origins in a 1908 strike, 12 years before women received the right to vote in the United States.

About 5,000 people also crowded Washington Square Park for a late afternoon rally, the mayor's office said.

As participants milled about with signs like, "Women hold up half the sky and then some," and "End gender violence," gold balloon letters were strung on barricades around the fountain to spell out "Women's Day."

Hunter College student Carah Naseem, 23, of Brooklyn, said she wanted to "show solidarity with women everywhere who fight for economic justice.”

"It's exciting (the rally). Right now, we're at an important and incredible time for the increased politicization and radicalization of women,” she said. 

Like many looking for an opportunity to capitalize on the recent political unrest, hawkers sold American flags, gay pride flags and flags that said "Not my president, impeach," while protesters, including Joseph Reichert and Suzanne Reichert, streamed into the park.

"You have to support the women; and with the administration taking away rights of women, you have to stand by women,” said Joseph Reichert. "I stand with my wife, my daughter, my mom, my niece -- all women."

While women took to the stage to shine a light on the controversial policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump's policies -- from his revamped travel ban to cuts to women's health services -- Sandra Truman couldn't help but wonder: "Aren't you ashamed of what's going on in this country right now? I am."

"I'm a woman. I'm not fond of the current political situation; that they are anti-woman," continued Truman, a 75-year-old retired artist who lives in the Village. "I'm here to protest that and to support women. I've always stood up for myself."

As the massive crowd marched through Greenwich Village to the Stonewall Inn, chants of "My body, my choice," and "Shut it down, justice now," could be heard echoing in the streets.

While not everyone could strike from work or attend the rallies, others observed and supported the movement in their own ways.

Restaurant manager Michelle Thomas from Hell’s Kitchen said on Tuesday that she would report to work (wearing red, of course) at Bagatelle, a Meatpacking District bistro, and hand out free drinks to all female customers for two hours Wednesday night, so women “won’t have to spend anything.”

The Chelsea-based websites Bustle and Romper, as well as their media handles, have gone dark for a 24-hour period, editor-in-chief Kate Ward said in a statement. And all workers will receive pay for the day.

“We are also encouraging team members to volunteer at charities that benefit women and marginalized communities in order to recognize those who do not have the ability to participate,” Ward said.

With Nicole Brown and Sheila Anne Feeney

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