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Still ‘Pretty Damn Mad’ Protesters Unite In Second Annual Women’s March

By Amy Held NPR

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

Determined to not let the momentum die, protesters once again converged on hundreds of cities — at home and abroad — for the second annual Women’s March, seeking not only to unite in a call for social change but also to channel their fury into voter action.

Nationwide, demonstrations from New York to Washington, D.C., to Oklahoma City to Los Angeles were planned on the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration and throughout the weekend. Overseas, protesters rallied or were planning to do so in France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Nigeria and Ghana.

NPR’s Leila Fadel reports that organizers are trying to avoid potential pitfalls from last year, when hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C., in one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history.

“One of the big criticisms was the march in D.C. was mostly white, liberal women,” Leila says. “This year, organizers say they are reaching out to local partners after a year of grass-roots work to try to access a cross section of America, from minorities to the disenfranchised to women in low-income communities.”

One thing that hasn’t changed, organizers say, is the anger that was on display last year.

“People were pretty damn mad last year, and they’re pretty damn mad this year,” Tamika Mallory, co-president of the Women’s March board, told The Associated Press.

Trump acknowledged the marches Saturday afternoon but said they should be in celebration of the accomplishments of his presidency.

“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months,” he tweeted. “Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”

But protesters are denouncing, not praising, Trump’s stands on various issues including immigration, LGBT rights and abortion.

“I want our country back,” Jess Amberseckia of Westchester County, N.Y. told NPR’s Windsor Johnston at the rally in Washington, D.C. “I want a role model in office.”

Many marchers on Saturday broke out their pink “pussyhats” from last year. It was a reference to Trump’s lewd remarks that emerged shortly before the presidential election when he bragged about grabbing women’s genitals in a 2005 Access Hollywood recording.

This year, the marches come in the midst of the #MeToo movement, a worldwide reckoning on sexual assault and harassment.

In Rome, several hundred women gathered downtown and listened to Asia Argento. The Italian actress, one of producer Harvey Weinstein’s first accusers, said the Hollywood producer engaged in transgressions ranging from harassment to rape.

“I’d like to see how many of you today acknowledge that you have put up with abuse, by raising your hands. And not just sexual. Abuse of power. Because we are women, because we don’t have power,” Argento said, reports The New York Times. Numerous people in the crowd raised their hands.

In Washington, D.C., marcher Debbie Droke expressed her amazement that these issues continue to pervade.

“I’m old,” Droke, 63, of Vienna, Va., told NPR. “I was doing this in the ’70s. I was walking with Gloria Steinem. And I never thought in a million years that I’d have to be doing this again to bring focus to women’s rights.”

In New York City, Bridie Bugeja, from Northport, N.Y., told NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang that she put her concerns about sexual harassment onto a sign in the form of a poem, inspired by the Dr. Seuss stories she read to her kids.

“I don’t like you in my shirt
“I don’t like you up my skirt
“I don’t like you near my rump
“Replace Republicans and Donald Trump”

Rallies are slated to continue in several cities on Sunday, including in Las Vegas, where the event Power to the Polls launches a national voter registration tour.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton encouraged women to bring the same might on display at the marches to the voting booth. “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance,” she tweeted on Saturday. “In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls.”

In choosing the location for the marquee event, organizers were looking not only to honor the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, but also to strategically highlight Nevada, a key battleground state in the 2018 midterm elections.

NPR’s Emma Bowman contributed to this story.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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