OLYMPIA – Thousands of protesters jammed the grounds of the state Capitol and marched through downtown Saturday morning for a Women’s March, demanding President Donald Trump and his new administration respect the rights of women and minorities, protect immigrants and pay attention to scientists who warn of global warning.
State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, urged them to “drive a stake into the wheel of injustice.” Fight any effort to divide the country by race, religion or sexual orientation, she said. If the country requires Muslims to register, she added, she will register as a Muslim; if it persecutes transgender citizens, “I’ll become transgender.”
The chanting, sign-waving crowd, estimated at 10,000, was one of the larger demonstrations in the city in recent memory, Olympia police said. It was double what organizers had estimated when filling out forms required for a demonstration at the Capitol.
After listening to Jinkins and several other speakers, they set off on a march that took them them eight blocks north from the Capitol grounds, a block east and the eight blocks back along the city’s main street. But when the first marchers returned to begin filling the steps of the domed Legislative Building, the last group hadn’t yet left.
The crowd was so big police changed the route several times to accommodate traffic concerns, Lt. Sam Costello, of the department’s downtown unit, said as he watched protesters make the turn back toward the Capitol grounds. But it was also a peaceful group, which was a welcome contrast to a small demonstration by a group of anarchists on Friday night who were disruptive but didn’t cause any major damage, he said.
Their signs were a potpourri of progressive issues from the last election, including opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, support for a $15 minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Some of the signs made references to Trump’s lewd comments about grabbing women by the genitals, while others questioned alleged interference by Russia and its president, Vladimiar Putin, in November’s election. Many women and some men wore hand-sewn or knitted pink “Pussyhats” with small ears pointing up.
Leann Tourtillott, of Olympia, who was clad in a one-piece velour Supergirl pajama with a pink “S,” sported one such cap that featured small peace signs. She said she made a dozen such caps from a blanket she bought at the same thrift store as the pajamas, and gave the rest to other demonstrators.
Eventually, they filled the Legislative Building steps, the steps of the facing Temple of Justice and the Flag Circle in between, while other demonstrators continued to pour in from the march.
As burning sage wafted over the steps, they swayed to Pharrell Williams “Happy” and cheered when Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, said it was time to stand up for survivors of sexual assault by testing the thousands of rape kits that languish in police evidence rooms.
“We need to stop blaming victims and start blaming perpetrators,” Orwall said.
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