Women’s March on Portland ‘easily’ one of city’s largest

Early estimates showed 100,000 people out for Women's March on Portland

Thousands participate in Women's March on Portland, January 21, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of people jammed downtown streets for the Women’s March on Portland Saturday as a show of empowerment and a stand against President Donald Trump.

More than 52,000 people RSVP’d for the “sisters march” and organizers said early estimates showed around 100,000 people participated.

In a tweet, Portland Police Bureau said the event was “easily one of the largest marches ever in Portland.”

Unlike Inauguration Day protests — which ended with the use of pepper spray and flash bangs — police said the Women’s March on Portland was 100% peaceful.

“This march was, we think, one of the largest in Portland history… and absolutely zero incidents or problems were reported,” PPB Sgt. Pete Simpson told KOIN 6 News. “The credit really goes to the organizers for working with the city, meeting with the police bureau to help plan the route and allow us to get the proper resources in place.”

Thanks to organizers, city officials and police who prepared for the event ahead of time, Simpson said demonstrators were able to effectively get their messages across.

Mayor Ted Wheeler called the Women’s March “an incredible day for Portland.”

“This has been a very positive, family friendly event,” the mayor said. “A lot of people out here expressing their First Amendment rights and doing so in a peaceful way.”

Despite a “more intense” event the night before, Wheeler said the Women’s March effectively demonstrated Portland’s ability to participate in meaningful protests.

“There is a strong value in this community to be engaged, active and expressive, and I strongly support that,” he said. “We support peaceful protest.”

Crowds began to fill Tom McCall Waterfront Park more than 90 minutes before the march was scheduled to begin. Among those were neophyte protesters Micah Sullivan and Kayla Williams.

Micah Sullivan, left and Kayla Williams were among the thousands who took part in the Women's March in Portland, January 21, 2017 (KOIN)
Micah Sullivan, left and Kayla Williams were among the thousands who took part in the Women’s March in Portland, January 21, 2017 (KOIN)

“My mom took me to [a protest] once when I was in middle school,” Sullivan told KOIN 6 News. Williams said her mother marched on Washington for women’s rights 20 years ago, and it’s not lost on her as the struggle continues.

“The new administration is less than 24 hours old and they’re already talking about defunding Planned Parenthood,” Williams said. “That’s disturbing.”

Men, women, children and people of all ages participated in the Women’s March on Portland for a variety of reasons both personal and political.

“Solidarity, number one,” Zach Deets said. “Having that voice to be out that we’re not going to stand for sexism and homophobia.”

Kat Malstead said she felt the march was an important part of history.

“I am so glad to be here I can’t even express it,” Malstead said. “I’m out here to make sure that everyone understands this is a movement of diversity, this is where America is right here, right now. This is where real Americans are.”

More than 50,000 people RSVP'd for the Women's March on Portland, January 21, 2017. (KOIN)
More than 50,000 people RSVP’d for the Women’s March on Portland, January 21, 2017. (KOIN)

Traffic came to a standstill Saturday afternoon as marchers flooded downtown streets. TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch told KOIN 6 News MAX and bus lines were delayed, and many people utilized public transportation to get to the event.

“This [was] a historic and quite impressive crowd, we can’t even remember when we had so many riders in such a short period of time,” Fetsch said. “Because of the large crowds we did have some delays and massive packing of vehicles.”

TriMet service was back to normal by the evening hours.

What is the Women’s March on Portland?

The march was one of 8 events planned in the state to coincide with a nationally organized Washington D.C. Women’s March had hundreds of simultaneous marches in the country and another 60 marches in 40 countries. The marches were not “anti-Trump,” according to organizers, but attendees were largely motivated by a resistance to the new president.

“We stand together,” reads the Women’s March mission statement, “recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

When and where is it?

The main march was set for Saturday, Jan. 21, at noon, with a family-centered event beginning at 11 a.m. It began at Tom McCall Waterfront Park (near the Saturday Market) with speakers. The 2.2-mile route started heading south on Naito Parkway, then up a few blocks to SW 9th Avenue.

This is the route for the Women's March on Portland, January 21, 2017 (KOIN)
This is the route for the Women’s March on Portland, January 21, 2017 (KOIN)


Elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest

In Seattle, organizers expected about 50,000 people at Saturday’s march. They said they wanted to connect people with one another and promote equity and social justice. Organizers initially asked protesters to march in silence, saying that “our silence will be deafening.”

The Portland Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this report