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Crowds jam midtown for NYC women’s march

People participate in the New York City Woman's

People participate in the New York City Woman's March in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A uterus drawing decorated the protest sign held by executive coach Martha Gelnaw as she stood in the shadow of the United Nations Saturday. The sign’s caption: “Don’t tread on me” — a slogan more common for the tea party movement than feminism.

The 64-year-old Hell’s Kitchen resident joined a vast gathering of hundreds of thousands of women and men at New York City’s women’s rally — part of a global protest of Donald Trump and his policies on his first full day as president.

“I’m worried about women’s rights and our reproductive rights,” Gelnaw said. “It’s just not Trump, it’s the Congress, it’s the Senate, it’s all the government — they’re disrespecting women’s rights.”

Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds jammed midtown Manhattan, radiating out from 47th Street and Second Avenue, with so many demonstrators that moving more than a few feet was almost impossible in some spots.

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said more than 400,000 people turned out for the event.

Although planned as a march, the thick crowds meant some would-be marchers had to stand still and chant abortion-rights, pro-woman and anti-Trump slogans.

“Abortion Access. Every woman. Every State” read one sign the American Civil Liberties Union distributed.

“Trump: Build a wall around yourself,” declared another.

Other demonstrators wore T-shirts reclaiming the insult Trump lobbed at Hillary Clinton in October during their third and final campaign debate: “Nasty woman.”

Grace Colwell, a Brooklyn mother of five and grandmother of 12, said she marched to cultivate unity among women of all races.

“We have been beaten, put down and raped, but we are resilient and bounce back,” said Colwell, 58. “We are here to show unity. We are all sisters. There are no racial issues here today. We are not putting up a wall like Trump.”

Jill Hurst, 60, of Brooklyn Heights, came with her husband, holding a rectangular sign reading: “Grab Him By The Impeachment.”

“We’re preaching to whoever’s going to listen that this is not what the majority of America wants — I don’t think so, at least,” said Hurst, who said she had supported Hillary Clinton.

Architect Nathan Keibler, 24, of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, held a sign that said: “Her Body Her Choice.”

“I’m here for women,” he said. “I feel like a lot of my friends have been disrespected by things that have been said during the election season as well as after the election.”

The Manhattan demonstration was in solidarity with the larger Women’s March on Washington taking place simultaneously in the nation’s capital, which attracted more than 500,000 people. Marchers also rallied around the world — as close as Long Island and as far away as Paris and Tel Aviv.

Among women, Democrat Clinton topped Republican Trump by 14 percentage points in the presidential election, according to exit polls crunched by the statistics blog FiveThirtyEight. But he did better than her among white women, winning 53 percent of their vote, according to a CNN analysis.

Celebrity attendees at New York City’s event included actress Helen Mirren, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon and New York City first lady Chirlane McCray.

An 11-year-old named Isabel carried a sign that read, “Though she be little she be fierce.”

“We made it together,” said her mom, Maria Slippen, 41, of Westchester.

Slippen, who came with both her daughters and her husband, said: “This is going to be a long and hard fight. We are ready. We have a lot of progressive energy.”

Her husband, Jeff Slippen, said the day’s message was an important moment for his children.

“I am here to teach my daughters that no one can dismantle our rights,” he said — referring to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which gave women nationwide the right to have an abortion.

Donet Austin, 50, of Brooklyn, was working her shift as a housekeeper near the United Nations, walking her employer’s dogs, when a marcher gave her a pink hat to wear.

“If I was not working, I would be out here experiencing this demonstration,” said Austin, who has a 16-year-old daughter who is “scared” by Trump’s rise to power.

Diane Frances, a retired bank manager from Manhattan, sighed in the crowd.

“We’re in trouble,” she said. “The inaugural speech was dark . . . What in the world is going to happen to us?”

With Maria Alvarez


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