Women come out in force across the region and nation

Thousands crowded onto the  Indiana Statehouse grounds in Indianapolis for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. (Photo submitted to the Den)

An estimated 250,000 crowded into downtown Chicago for the Women’s March. (Photo courtesy of The Illinois Eagle)

CHICAGO – People across the Great Lakes and Midwest joined with millions of others in sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.

Chicago, the region’s largest city, hosted the largest march, with an estimated 250,000 gathering in Grant Park and the south Loop. But other cities also saw huge numbers turn out.

The Minnesota capital of St. Paul saw more than 90,000 come out, according to police. Des Moines saw 26,000, a huge number for a city of just a quarter million.

Indianapolis police told the Indianapolis Star that 4,000 to 5,000 people attended the march at the state capitol. More than 20,000 flooded into downtown St. Louis.

Thousands march in the Michigan state capital of Lansing on Saturday. (Photo by Pup Neptune)

Another huge march took place in Madison, Wisc., where police estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 marched into the state capital of 200,000. Thousands more were in marches in Columbus, Detroit, Cleveland, and Lexington. Even smaller cities like Evansville, Fort Wayne and Carbondale hosted marches.

The actions in the region were just a drop in the bucket compared to marches worldwide. Almost one million people gathered in Washington, D.C., three times the number that had attended the inauguration the previous day. Media reports had numbers of 750,000 both New York City and Los Angeles. Other marches took place around the world from London to Nairobi to New Delhi to Mexico City. The low estimate for march attendance in the U.S. alone is 3.3 million.

The marches were part of a reaction to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president. Throughout the campaign, he had raged about immigration saying he would register all Muslims and video was released of him saying he could grab women “by the pussy.” Since the election, his cabinet picks have been largely anti-LGBT and have been aggressively against abortion access. He also signed an executive order to stop the executive branch from enforcing the ACA, also known as Obamacare, within hours of swearing in.

The administration’s reaction, judging by the first press conference with new press secretary Sean Spicer, was to pick a fight with the media and claim the inauguration was actually much bigger and that the press was “misleading” the public.

Those attending marches were energized. “Friday was all about fear and disgust,” Das Janssen of Chicago said. “Saturday, millions of us lived proof that we’re not alone.”

“I really appreciated that the crowd was diverse – lots of different bodies, lots of different ages, lots of different races,” said Sarah Sloan, another marcher in Chicago. “It felt safe for me to be surrounded by other people who believe that fighting for social justice is critical.”

Tim Koski in Lansing had the same reaction. “I was pleasantly surprised to see people from infants all the way to the elderly being active and passionate in this movement. The energy yesterday was amazing,” he said.