In what is said to be the largest global human rights event in history, the Women’s March on Washington and its international arm had hundreds of marches planned across 50 countries and dozens of sister marches in cities large and small across the United States on Saturday, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
People from the South Fork took part in the massive marches in Washington, D.C., and New York City Saturday, but also gathered for a last-minute solidarity event in Sag Harbor that turned out to be much larger than organizers had anticipated, with several hundred in attendance.
The number of protesters also exceeded expectations in both New York City and Washington.
In the days leading up to the New York march, which went down Second Avenue from 46th Street, across 42nd Street, and up Fifth Avenue to the Trump Tower, organizers expected 100,000 people. On midday Saturday, speakers told the crowd that police had told them there were more than 300,000 in attendance. The mayor’s office later said that 400,000 people took part. According to The New York Times, there were more than 500,000 at the Washington march, far surpassing the number who had attended President Trump’s inauguration the day before.
The marches’ overarching theme was the protection of women’s rights and equal rights for all, but they also served as a platform for a myriad of criticisms of the country’s new president, his cabinet picks, and his goals.
In the wee hours of the morning between Amagansett and Bridgehampton, protestors boarded five sold-out charted Hampton Jitneys bound for Washington. All told, 11 chartered Jitneys traveled from eastern Suffolk County to Washington.
Hampton Jitneys leaving the South Fork later that morning were packed with people headed for the peaceful protest in New York, among them a dozen or so who would march with the members of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee.
In Sag Harbor, Hope Marxe said on Saturday that she, Laura Eisman, and Ann Stewart, all of that village, had been talking about how "we would love to go to the march in D.C. or N.Y. but that we couldn't for many reasons. . . . So on a whim, two days ago, I went to Sag Harbor Village and asked for a permit." The village, including the police, she said were "amazing."
She had only indicated that 50 people would be participating in the sister march, and was shocked by the turnout. Village Police Chief Austin J. McGuire estimated there were 250 people in attendance. Men, women, and children gathered by the windmill on the Long Wharf around noon and then marched up and down Main Street, carrying signs and, at times, chanting, "This is what democracy looks like," according to Ms. Marxe. The chant mirrored chants in New York, Washington, and the many other cities where marches were taking place.
Sag Harbor marchers reconvened at the windmill, and at 1 p.m., they joined in a global minute of silence led online by Gloria Steinem, in what was called the 1@1 initiative.
The Sag Harbor march was smooth and peaceful, Ms. Marxe said. "People were so grateful for the chance to connect and share. I feel so incredibly proud and honored to live in such a great place."
East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez was among the women from the South Fork who traveled 12 hours roundtrip by bus to Washington for the march. "My 16-year old daughter, Nina, signed us up for the trip because she was concerned that our fundamental rights — our human rights, reproductive rights, L.G.B.T. rights, immigrant rights — were under siege," Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. "She felt the need to speak up and have her voice and the voice of her generation heard. Even though she's not of voting age, she believed strongly that her opinions matter. As her mom, I wanted to support her."
The councilwoman said there were a number of young women from the East End with their mothers on her bus, "and my hope is that we just launched a new generation of female activists." As she traveled back on the bus Saturday evening she said the experience had been “an energizing yet peaceful demonstration. There's a movement afoot and all of us gathered there felt it. We were one community. At times it gave us chills. And it will be sustainable."