Massive crowds of women show up to rally across US to protest Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Women took to the streets in unexpectedly large numbers in major U.S. cities on Saturday in mass protests against U.S. President Donald Trump, in an early indication of the strong opposition the newly inaugurated Republican may face in office.

Hundreds of thousands of women - many wearing pink knit hats to evoke comments by Trump that triggered outrage among many - filled long stretches of downtown Washington around the White House and National Mall. Hundreds of thousands more women thronged New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to rebuke Trump on his first full day in office.

Trump has angered many liberal Americans with comments seen as demeaning to women, Mexicans and Muslims. He worried some abroad with his inaugural vow on Friday to put "America first" in his decision-making.

Around the world, women marched in sympathy and shared outrage in hundreds of cities, drawing a total turnout that organizers estimated at more than 4 million.

The Women's March on Washington appeared to be larger than the crowds that turned a day earlier to witness Trump's swearing-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. No official estimates of the crowd size were available, but the demonstrators appeared to easily exceed the 200,000 organizers had expected.

Sister March organizers estimated drawing 750,000 demonstrators to the streets of Los Angeles, and a planned march in Chicago grew so large that organizers did not attempt to parade through the city but instead staged a rally. Chicago police said more than 125,000 people attended the event.

The protests illustrated the depth of the division in the country, still reeling from the bitterly fought 2016 election campaign. Trump stunned the world by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and first lady who made history as the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.

Pam Foyster, a resident of Ridgway, Colorado, said the atmosphere in Washington reminded her of mass protests during the 1960s and '70s against the Vietnam War and in favor of civil rights and women's rights.

"I'm 58 years old, and I can't believe we are having to do this again," Foyster said.

Although Republicans now control the White House and both houses of Congress, Trump faces entrenched opposition from segments of the public as he takes office, in contrast to the honeymoon period that new presidents typically experience at the outset.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump had the lowest favorability rating of any incoming U.S. president since the 1970s.

Tens of thousands of protesters filled streets of midtown Manhattan, while around the world thousands of women took to the streets of Sydney, London, Tokyo and other cities in Europe and Asia in sister marches against Trump.

See photos of protests around the world:

13 PHOTOS
Women's March protests are unfolding around the world
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Women's March protests are unfolding around the world
Protesters carrying banners take part in the Women's March on London, as they stand in Trafalgar Square, in central London, Britain January 21, 2017. The march formed part of a worldwide day of action following the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President.
People gathered beside Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, holding "Love trumps hate" signs.

A woman waits for the start of the #IWillGoOut rally, organized to show solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, along a street in New Delhi, India January 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

People hold signs to show solidarity with the Women's March in Washington and many other marches in several countries, in Madrid, Spain January 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Javier Barbancho)

Protesters take part in the Women's March on Dublin, Ireland January 21, 2017. The march formed part of a worldwide day of action following the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21 : People hold banners as they gather for a rally, protesting US new President Donald Trump following his inauguration on January 21, 2017 in front of the Parliament House, in Melbourne, Australia on January 21, 2017. Rights groups, mostly includes women, marched in solidarity with Americans to speak out against misogyny, bigotry and hatred. (Photo by Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protesters carrying banners and placards take part in a Women's March in Stockholm, Sweden, January 21, 2017. TT News Agency/Pontus Lundahl via REUTERS.?ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES.
People protest the inauguration of new US President Donald Trump in front of the US Embassy in Buenos Aires on January 21, 2017. / AFP / Emiliano Lasalvia (Photo credit should read EMILIANO LASALVIA/AFP/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - 2017/01/20: A protester carries a Don't assault women banner at the Lights for rights Women's march in Brussels for equal rights and against Trump. (Photo by Frederik Sadones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JANUARY 21: Thousands of people filled Boston Common for the Boston Women's March for America on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The Boston event is one of more than 670 marches being held nationwide and globally, a day after President Trump took office. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: People listen to a speaker during a rally at the Women's March on Washington, Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Crowds gather for The Women's March on Main covered by The IMDb Studio during The 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
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Sister March sponsors boasted some 670 gatherings around the world in solidarity with the Washington event, estimating a global turnout of more than 4.6 million participants, although those numbers could not be independently verified.

Trump, in a Twitter post on Saturday, wrote, "I am honored to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!" He made no mention of the protests. Trump attended an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral and then visited the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters.

SUBWAY OVERWHELMED

The Washington march stressed the city's Metro subway system, with riders reporting enormous crowds and some end-of-line stations temporarily turning people away.

The Metro reported 275,000 rides as of 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) Saturday, 82,000 more than the 193,000 reported at the same time on Friday, the day of Trump's inauguration, and eight times normal Saturday volume.

No official crowd estimates were available from the National Park Service or Washington police.

Trump on Saturday angrily attacked media reports, including photos, that showed crowds at Friday's inaugural were smaller than those seen in 2009 and 2013, when Barack Obama was inaugurated for his first and second terms as president. Overhead photos of the area showed significantly smaller crowds on Friday compared with Obama's first inauguration eight years ago.

"I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people," Trump said at his visit to the CIA. "They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there."

Saturday's march was peaceful, a sharp contrast to the day before when black-clad anti-establishment activists, among the hundreds of demonstrators protesting against Trump, smashed windows, set vehicles on fire and fought with riot police, who responded with stun grenades.

Washington prosecutors on Saturday said about $100,000 in damage had been done and 230 adults and five minors had been arrested.

Many protesters on Saturday wore knitted pink cat-eared "pussy hats," in reference to Trump's claim in the 2005 video that was made public weeks before the election that he grabbed women by the genitals.

The Washington march featured speakers, celebrity appearances and a protest walk along the National Mall.

Among the well-known figures who attended were Madonna, who swore while discussing Trump before singing her 1989 hit "Express Yourself," singer-actress Cher and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who waved to supporters as his walked his yellow Labrador, Ben.

WOMEN'S VOTES

Clinton won the popular vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election by around 2.9 million votes and had an advantage among women of more than 10 percentage points. Trump, however, easily won the state-by-state Electoral College vote that actually determines the winner.

Trump offered few if any olive branches to his opponents in his Friday inauguration speech in which he promised to put "America First."

"He has never seemed particularly concerned about people who oppose him, he almost fights against them instinctively," said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

But the lawmakers whom Trump will rely on to achieve his policy goals, including building a wall on the Mexican border and replacing the 2010 healthcare reform law known as Obamacare, may be more susceptible to the negative public opinion the march illustrates, Levesque said.

"Members of Congress are very sensitive to the public mood and many of them are down here this week to see him," Levesque said.

At the New York march, 42-year-old Megan Schulz, who works in communications, said she worried that Trump was changing the standards of public discourse.

"The scary thing about Donald Trump is that now all the Republicans are acquiescing to him and things are starting to become normalized," Schulz said. "We can't have our president talking about women the way he does."

See photos of the marches:

34 PHOTOS
Women's Marches around the United States
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Women's Marches around the United States

Protesters march down Pennsylvania avenue during the Women's March on Washington January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The march is expected to draw thousands from across the country to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Demonstrators hold signs while making their way towards Trump Tower during the Women's March in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are planned in conjunction with the Womens March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Protesters flood 14th Street during the Women's March on Washington January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Large crowds are attending the anti-Trump rally a day after U.S. President Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, center left, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh hold a banner while marching down Commonwealth Avenue during the Boston Women's March in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are planned in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.

(Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Demonstrators attend the rally at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Demonstrators gather during the Women's March of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are planned in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.

(Troy Harvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Marchers fill Hill Street during the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles for the Women's March in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Women's Marches are being held in cities around the world.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Demonstrators hold signs during the Women's March of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are planned in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.

(Troy Harvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Peaceful protesters demonstrate during the Women's March On Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Marianne Nepsund, 29, from New York, holds a sign as she participates in the Women's March on Washington, following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Demonstrators taking part in the Women's March to protest Donald Trump's inauguration as the 45th president of the United States march around the U.S. Agriculture Department in Washington, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Marchers during the Women's March on Main Street Park City on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Marchers during the Women's March on Main Street Park City on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Protesters cheer at the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Dakota Sillyman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Protesters participate in the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

(Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of marchers fill the street during a Women's March demonstration in Washington, DC, U.S., January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Protesters participate in the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

(Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

People listen to speeches at the Women's March, held in opposition to the agenda and rhetoric of President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, U.S., January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Canice Leung
People participate in a Women's March to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, U.S. January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: A view of protesters marching in front of the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: A view of protesters marching on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 21: Demonstrators attend the rally at the Women's March at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on January 21, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)
Demonstrators take part in the Women's March to protest Donald Trump's inauguration as the 45th president of the United States near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People pack the National Mall for the Women's March in Washington, U.S. January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People gather for the Women's March in Washington U.S., January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A sculpted eagle on the exterior of Grand Central Terminal overlooks people participating in a Women's March to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, U.S. January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People participate in a Women's March to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, U.S. January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People participating in a Women's March to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump fill up 42nd St. in New York City, U.S. January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People watch as demonstrators march towards Trump Tower during the Women's March in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are planned in conjunction with the Womens March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DENVER, CO JANUARY 21: Tens of thousands of people from across Colorado flooded Civic Center in downtown Denver for the 'Womens March on Denver the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. January 21, 2017 Denver, CO. (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - January 21: Thousands of protesters at Civic Center Park for the Women's March on Denver January 21, 2017. Over 100,000 people converged on downtown Denver in coordination with demonstrations across the country to send a message to the new Trump administration demanding social justice, human rights, and equality. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado, during the Women's March on January 21, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets across the US on Saturday in a massive outpouring of defiant opposition to America's new president, Donald Trump. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man protests during a Central Florida women's rally at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
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