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Washington, D.C. Saturday 21st of January 2017


Washington, D.C. Saturday 23rd of January 2017

Meeting up with friends I was going to the Women’s March with proved a
little more awkward than expected. There was a queue of 20 minutes to get a
Metro ticket but once purchased long Metro trains were arriving every 1 – 3
minutes. I had to coordinate by phone to make sure I got on the same train
and after 4 went by finally found the right one. It was mobbed with women
and men in pink hats with discussions such as “We need to get rid of the
Electoral College” (which gave Trump the victory over Clinton’s 3+ million
direct votes) going on.
When we arrived in the city we met by a stream of people heading to the
Mall for the rally point. The Mall is a long park that is between the
Capital and the Washington Monument with the Smithsonian Museums off it. By
10.30am when we made it to the city, the area before the speakers was so
full it was impossible to get near. One of the signs of the last minute
nature of the organizing of the event was that planning was clearly for
100,000 – 200,000 and the turn out was more like 500,000 to 750,000. There
was a large screen behind the speakers but not big enough to carry the
distance we were forced to be. We never heard any speeches just the waves
of applause which everyone joined in on.  The March’s website had warned us
about security precautions – no large backpacks, no poles, etc. There was
never a chance to enforce these protocols.
Once the march started at 1pm we followed a stream going down Constitution
Avenue that was as large as any march I’ve been on towards the goal of the
White House Ellipse. To my knowledge there were at least 5 streams of
marchers following different roads heading to the end event. When they all
joined up the March was massive. The atmosphere was the least aggressive,
chatty and friendly of any crowd I’ve been in. Movement through the masses
often required ‘trains’  being led by one of our number weaving through the
pressed bodies. After  4 hours the event was still going on but the cold
and the numbers had taken their tole and half of us made our way back to
the metro.

An amazing day. Was it worth traveling all the way to Washington, D.C. for?
For me yes. And for many others also, as I met people from Washington
State, Arizona, Boston, Georgia and saw one sign go by in Irish. The
estimates are that between 3.5 and 4 million marched in the United States
alone. When I came back I heard 5,000 marched in Dublin. There is a
Wikipedia page up already saying that up to 5 million marched worldwide.
And although the day was magic (and I still haven’t had time to watch the
speeches to see what the celebrities say) because it was so about us on the
streets and not those on the stage, it still leaves a big question. How do
we build a world that is not about walls, groping, denying global warming,
‘alternative facts’, stripping healthcare from the vulnerable citizens,
vulnerable undocumented residents, racisms and especially an attack
mentality? The Marches were a great start and one of the signs at the
Washington march says it all for me, “Take your broken heart and make it
art” and make it with others world wide.


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