The rain-soaked mud coating Tom McCall Waterfront Park was hardly visible Saturday afternoon as colorful rain boots, hand stitched pink “pussy hats” and the people in-between danced to Beyoncé and walked around with signs saying “Women’s rights are human rights”, “Nasty women keep fighting” and “Not my president.”
University of Portland women and men alike rode in cars, took Ubers, boarded TriMet and walked across the Morrison Bridge to join in on the Portland Women’s March Saturday. Organizers for the march say that 100,000 people came out in protest of President Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before and to demonstrate for the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ community members, the environment and more.
“It’s nice to see how many people are acknowledging and showing that they don’t agree with what’s happening right now,” said junior soccer player Hannah Griffiths Boston.
While the march that would make a loop through Naito Pkwy, SW Jefferson St., 4th and Pine streets was slated to begin at 1:15 in the afternoon, attendees were directed on the Women’s March on Portland Facebook page to assemble at noon.
The extra hour left room for dancing and sign waving.
“I don’t think (the rain) slowed us down, but it was definitely a little bit of a damper just because if it were sunnier I think it would have helped,” freshman Julia Norton said. “But we’re fighting for a cause and there were still tons of people. We’ll suffer through it.
Despite the heavy rain, turnout for the event was over three times the expected amount. The march created likely the largest crowd Portland has ever seen, a phenomenon that echoed throughout the rest of the country and world as well.
Excitement was high and students described the vibe of the event as “energetic” and “passionate”. The multitude of signs likely best encapsulated the feelings of indignation and a desire for change amongst the crowd of peaceful protesters.
Signs from students read “RESPECT EXISTENCE or EXPECT RESISTANCE,” “Don’t hate, educate,” “OUR RIGHTS aren’t up for GRABS and neither are WE” and “A woman’s place is in the resistance”.
“There was a kid that had a sign and it wasn’t spelled correctly but it said on one side, ‘I believe in science’ and the other side said, ‘I believe in climate change’. That one was my favorite,” said junior Mara Midiere, who toted her own sign dawning a quote from Rupi Kaur in blue and gold.
Male Pilots also made it out to the rainy event. Father Pat Hannon was in attendance and several male students and alumni marched in solidarity.
“I have a thirteen year old sister that I would like to not have to worry about,” senior Collin Haar said. “(The things we’re demonstrating for) are such easy things we could have already solved in society, like (supporting) Planned Parenthood.”
Haar wasn’t the only protester marching for someone in particular. Freshman Olivia Carbajal said she was marching for her grandparents, who are immigrants.
“My family’s a big deal to me,” Carbajal said. “I fought to make sure everybody is safe and I marched for those that couldn’t march. I wanted to be there as a representation for immigrants and those that don’t agree at all with Donald Trump’s policies.”
Once 1:15 p.m. rolled around, the large crowds stayed largely stagnant. Many were worried that the massive turnout would halt anyone from marching at all, as happened in the Chicago event. But many climbed into parking garages and hopped out on the other side onto 1st St.
The march expanded into side streets and streets paralleling Naito Pkwy, thinning out crowds and allowing everyone to walk. The Portland Police were largely flexible as the route changed, catering to the unexpected turnout.
Police officers on motorcycles directed traffic through the massive crowds without threatening the safety of protesters. Some even donned pink “pussy hats” and flowers.
Women, men, children, dogs and everything in between held colorful umbrellas and signs and chanted “love trumps hate” and “this is what democracy looks like” throughout the streets.
While the march was a rally cry against a presidency that most attendees seemed to view as wrongful and terrifying, the end result was defiantly jubilant.
Cheyenne Schoen and Rachel Ramirez also contributed reporting to this story.