More than 100,000 energized but peaceful protesters hit New York City streets Saturday in a march for women's rights on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, pitting what one woman called "power at the polls" against an American leader she called "scary."
The New York march, which started in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower by Central Park, was among more than 200 planned for the weekend around the world.
"I'd be lying if I said that I'm not dispirited and discouraged over having to march yet again to register our opposition to this disastrous first year of the Trump presidency," said Peggy Taylor, a New York City tour guide and Manhattan resident.
She said that last year, she felt "a kind of euphoria" walking through the city with hundreds of thousands of participants.
This year, "the hard reality of what lies ahead of us has sunk in," she said. "I know that we have a long slog ahead of us to undo the damage that this man has inflicted."
Participants, many wearing pink cat-ear hats, rallied on Central Park West and Columbus Circle before the march that was to conclude on Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Moore were some of the celebrities on-hand for the march.
Police organized elbow-to-elbow participants behind metal barriers that reached into offshoot streets along the park, guiding them in groups toward the march downtown. But the crowds were so thick that officers started turning people away at certain entry points, telling them to try farther north. Subway stations were packed. Andrea Hagelgans, a senior advisor for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, tweeted that more than 120,000 people turned out for the march.
Organizers said they would participate because basic rights for women, immigrants and others are under attack. Women's marches around the world are also highlighting the #MeToo movement, which, branched from social media, has brought awareness and has empowered victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Among the goals of this year's march are getting more Democrats to run for public office and bolstering voter registration.
"Power at the polls," said a sign held by Cathy Muldoon, 52, a high school librarian from Dallas, Pennsylvania, who brought her two teenage daughters.
She said this year's action is set against the backdrop of Trump's presidency, which "turned out to be as scary as we thought it would be; I've not seen any checks and balances, everything is moving toward the right, and we have a president who seems to have no decency."
However, she said, the march "gives us a sense that we still have some power and that there is hope."
Thalia Friedman, an intrepid 9-year-old New York resident, held up a sign that read: "Donald Trump calls women ugly and does not deserve to be president." Then she spoke, adding, "and he's racist."
Earlier Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the Women's March Breakfast hosted by the New York City Bar Association.
"We have seen tremendous aggression and discrimination against women over this past year," Cuomo said. "We have a federal government that's looking to roll back women's rights all across the board — roll back a woman's right to choose, roll back contraceptive care, roll back insurance coverage for reproductive rights."
The Republican president "fundamentally disrespects women," said Cuomo, a Democrat. "And then you put him together with an extremely conservative Congress and you have seen a reversal of women's rights."
Tens of thousands of people marched in cities up and down the West Coast. Actress Viola Davis addressed members of the Los Angeles crowd, many of whom carried signs like "Real news, fake president." In Park City, Utah, where the annual Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, actress Jane Fonda and nationally known attorney Gloria Allred joined the women's march.
Meanwhile, Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon that it was a "perfect day" for women to march to celebrate the "economic success and wealth creation" that's happened during his first year in office — while women across the nation rallied against him and his policies.
"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," the Republican wrote. "Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!"
But demonstrators denounced Trump's views with colorful signs and even saltier language.
Oklahoma City protesters chanted "We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!" One woman donned a T-shirt with the likeness of social justice icon Woody Guthrie, who wrote "This Land Is Your Land."
Members of the group Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Seattle burned sage and chanted in front of Seattle's rainy march.
In Richmond, Virginia, the crowd burst into cheers when a woman ran down the middle of the street carrying a pink flag with the word "Resist."
The march in Washington, D.C., on Saturday took on the feel of a political rally when U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, both Democrats, urged women to run for office and vote to oppose Trump and the Republicans' agenda.
"We march, we run, we vote, we win," Pelosi said, to applause.
People gathered from Montpelier to Milwaukee, from Shreveport to Seneca Falls.
"I think right now with the #MeToo movement, it's even more important to stand for our rights," said Karen Tordivo, who marched in Cleveland with her husband and 6-year-old daughter.
In Palm Beach, Florida, home to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, several hundred people gathered carrying anti-Trump signs before marching. There, a group of women wearing red cloaks and white hats like the characters in the book and TV show "The Handmaid's Tale" marched in formation, their heads bowed.
Earlier Saturday, dozens of activists gathered in Rome to denounce violence against women and express support for the #MeToo movement. They were joined by Italian actress and director Asia Argento, who made headlines after alleging in 2017 she had been sexually assaulted by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s.
Argento addressed the criticism she received once she spoke up about her abuse.
"Women are scared to speak, and because I was vilified by everything I said, I was called a prostitute for being raped," she said at the rally.
Argento, who's 42, was strongly criticized by many Italian media and Italian women for not speaking out earlier and was hounded on Twitter with accusations that she sought trouble.
Weinstein has apologized for causing "a lot of pain" with "the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past," but he has denied "any allegations of non-consensual sex."
The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those opposing Trump's views, words and actions. Millions of people around the world marched during last year's rallies, and many on Saturday talked about the whirlwind of the past year.