Live From the Women’s March on Washington
Slate's live blog, featuring updates and dispatches from reporters on the ground, about the Women's March on Washington, and other satellite marches in cities across America and the rest of the world.
The Best, Nastiest Protest Signs From the Women’s March on Washington
Thousands from across the country descended on Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, an event whose attendance could now easily rival or surpass President Trump’s seemingly sparsely attended inauguration.
Another area in which the march appears poised to outdo the inauguration: the signs. Below, some of the best from D.C. and around the country. (We’ll keep adding to this throughout the day.)
What Trump’s Inauguration Night Was Like in the D.C. Neighborhood That Partied Hardest for Obama
When Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, U Street NW was popping. The D.C. nightlife corridor was once known as Black Broadway, a central hub of black-owned businesses and jazz clubs. It was a natural home base for the inauguration parties and spontaneous street-side celebrations of the weekend America got its first black president.
On Friday evening around 8:30 p.m., hours after the installation of President Donald J. Trump, police cars blocked the side streets leading onto U Street, leaving several blocks empty of cars or people. A motorcade drove through, sirens blaring, limousines and armored vans parading down U Street while onlookers stared in silence. Finally, someone cracked: “Go to hell, Nazi!” he yelled. It might have been Trump, or Pence, or some other new administration arrival. It didn’t matter. It felt like the new president was trolling the city, 96 percent of which voted against him, by shutting down a corridor known for black excellence and favored by his predecessor.
This was outside the Brixton, a bar that would be stuffed full of white, handsy, too-drunk men on any other Friday evening. So notorious is the Brixton as a symbol of gentrification and annoying bros on U Street that it’s inspired a diss track, “Burn Down the Brixton,” from a local punk outfit. If any bar could chuckle along with Trump’s “locker room talk,” it would be this one.
And yet, on Friday night, the Brixton was full of young, professional, progressive women in sparkly dresses dancing to a remix of Beyoncé’s “Formation.” They were attending the Nasty Women Ball, a private event on the second floor of the bar. Across the street at Nellie’s, a gay sports bar, bartender Kenneth Bell, 34, wore a “No Ma’am” hat in preparation for Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. There was only one MAGA hat in the room, and it said “Make America Gay Again.” A few anti-Trump protesters walked by the window, carrying their posters home from the downtown events of the afternoon. “Ugh, let’s just go get drunk,” one said. They laughed.
U Street is almost unrecognizable as the neighborhood that hosted dance parties in the street when Obama took office. In the years since then, legendary jazz joint Bohemian Caverns has closed, as has the Islander, a decades-old black-owned Caribbean restaurant. Where there was once a massive flea market patronized by almost exclusively black customers and vendors at 8th and U, there’s now a massive, multiblock condo complex with a Kit & Ace and a Warby Parker store on the ground level. When the condos were first erected, they were advertised with an enormous banner that announced “she has arrived” above a photo of a white woman in a powdered wig. It reeked of colonialism.
Historic landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl, the only restaurant on the U Street corridor to survive the 1968 riots that erupted here following the assassination of Martin Luther King, became even more of a tourist hotspot after Obama ate there shortly before his inauguration in 2009. (Here’s a photo of the line around the block a week later.) At the time, there was a sign at the cash register saying that Bill Cosby would always eat free at the restaurant; Obama’s name was soon added. In 2009, few could have predicted how Cosby’s reputation would shrivel and burn. There’s now a mural of both men on the side of Ben’s. The proprietor hasn’t given in to pleas to paint over Cosby’s face. On Friday night, the place was half-full, mostly populated by people looking at their phones over baskets of cheese fries and chili dogs. Things usually pick up strong with a late-night crew, but around 9:30, the line didn’t make it to the door.
Progressive activist and electronic pop artist Moby DJed parties at U Street Music Hall, a literally underground dance club at 12th and U, on the weekends of both Obama’s inaugurations. This year, the club hosted DJ Ben Nicky at a party called Synthesis. It was billed as the “official inauguration afterparty” and promised to “make trance great again.” None of this seemed ironic.
At Marvin, a bar at 14th and U named for Marvin Gaye by two brothers who have a minor restaurant empire that also includes the Brixton, Maria Fenton, 44, was drinking a glass of red wine alone. Eight years ago, she spent the night of Obama’s inauguration roaming the city. “Do you know how many old people I held and cried with? People who never thought they’d see a black president,” she said. Fenton was surprised to feel jolt of relief when Obama met his last day in office, because she believed he might be assassinated during his term. She’s disgusted by Trump, but says he’s merely a symptom of a system of deeper ills in the U.S. “It’s horrific for white women, but it’s nothing new for black women,” she said.
Just south of U on 14th Street, two young men had a boombox outside a burger shop, laughing at a friend dancing around with an “impeach” sign with a clown face on it. Tyone Hall, 19, is a Howard University student who hopes the city won’t change too much with the influx of members of the Trump administration. “To be honest, the things they say he did to those ladies, we don’t need no type of president like that,” Hall said. “He makes us [men] look bad. And he’s just racist.” One of his friends, who emigrated from Jamaica three years ago, saw a neo-Nazi get punched and hit with a stick at a protest in Dupont Circle earlier in the day. But by 10 p.m., they were goofing around, enjoying a night out. “Tonight, I’m just chilling, having fun,” Hall said.
The protesters were a bit more serious at the Black Cat, a lovably grungy home for weirdos and local music acts. There, an anti-fascist benefit concert (punks, wipe the drool from your chins) headlined by Waxahatchee was going down. Pierette Montone, 30, was having a beer at the bar after a day of #DisruptJ20 actions. “I went down and voiced my dissent,” she said. “Roamed around the Capitol for a while, then joined up with the water protectors. And then a bunch of us broke off and took the cops on a little run.” Montone moved to Philadelphia about a year ago, but she was living in D.C. during Obama’s 2009 inauguration. She remembers listening to it on the radio with her friends and attending the inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial to see Beyoncé the night before. This inauguration, she sees friends like the Black Cat’s bartenders burying themselves in work, just trying to make it through the day. “For anyone who lived here for Obama’s inauguration, it was an enormous positive moment,” she said. “Now it’s only fear.”
By Train, Plane, and Automobile, Nasty Women Are Descending on D.C.
On a day when those of us in the liberal bubble are facing social media feeds overflowing with sadness and despair, there is one exception to the unremitting gloom: Women heading to the nation’s capital to attend the Women’s March on Washington report encountering joyous, inspiring expressions of solidarity on the journey. Whether traveling by plane, train, bus, or automobile, people are encountering random acts of transportation camaraderie.
The Women’s March Crowd Is Expected to Be Five Times Larger Than Trump’s
Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony drew a meager turnout on Friday afternoon, and a significant portion of the attendees were there in protest. Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington is expected to bring out a crowd nearly five times larger.
In December, city officials were planning for more than 1 million inauguration attendees and more than 1,500 charter buses. Earlier this week, they amended their estimation—only 435 buses were slated to park in the lots near RFK Stadium and elsewhere in the city on Inauguration Day. And at least 12 of those were full of people coming to protest, according to DCist.
The Women’s March, on the other hand, has 2,066 buses slated to park in the city on Saturday. Barack Obama’s record-setting 2009 inauguration drew about 3,000 charter buses, and officials estimated the resulting crowd at 1.8 million people.
Saturday’s march, which has been in the works since the day after Trump’s Nov. 8 election, isn’t explicitly anti-Trump—in fact, organizers have been fielding criticism from some attendees who are upset that Hillary Clinton isn’t on the march’s official list of honorees. But its platform is extremely progressive, reaching beyond the usual-suspect issues in the “women’s” category (reproductive rights, equal pay, sex discrimination) to take strong stances on immigration, police brutality, and workers’ rights.
At the inauguration ceremony and its concurrent protests on Friday, the homemade pink “pussyhats” that have come to be an unofficial uniform for the march were everywhere. They were a handy code by which to separate the Trump fans on the street from the anti-Trumpers, much more effective than those “Make America Rage Again” or “Make America Mexico Again” hats that look just like regular MAGA gear from afar.
That won’t likely be a problem on Saturday, when what may turn out to be hundreds of thousands of people come out to see Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Janelle Monae, Janet Mock, Cecile Richards, the Indigo Girls, and the other people slated to speak and perform at the pre-march rally. The program starts at 10 a.m. at the intersection of 3rd Street and Independence Avenue SW, and the marching (west on Independence, north on 14th, west on Constitution, and ending at 17th Street) begins at 1:15 p.m. Expect a lot of good signs and a sea of pink cat ears.
The D.C. event is just one of more than 670 (!) women’s marches happening around the world on Saturday. As of Thursday, the Los Angeles march had 92,000 registrants, and Boston is estimating a turnout of more than 80,000. More than 43,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they’re going to the San Francisco march. Miami expects up to 10,000 people at its march, and St. Paul, Minnesota is showing up strong with current estimates of 20,000 attendees at its Saturday event.
In the Trump Era, Here Are Two Ways Women Can Take Their Reproductive Health Into Their Own Hands
One of the reproductive rights movement’s mottos has long been, “Trust women.” As a new president who aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act and overturn Roe v. Wade is sworn into office, some medical professionals and advocates are giving that phrase new meaning by empowering women to take their care into their own hands—literally. Articles in Cosmopolitan and Rewire this week highlight a couple of ways that women can control their own fertility in the event that they can’t afford to visit a doctor or in the event that abortion is outlawed.
Remember American Apparel’s Signature Aesthetic by Buying a Velvet Crop Top in Its Fire Sale
American Apparel, which declared bankruptcy in 2015 and sold its remaining assets to a Canadian firm last week, made a number of well-designed, well-made basics: leggings, t-shirts, hoodies, underwear. But that’s not what the purveyor of domestically manufactured clothes will be remembered for. Rather, American Apparel will be remembered for its pervy founder, its pseudo-pornographic advertising, and its subset of delightfully impractical garments. For every classic, universally flattering tee in a given American Apparel outlet, there was a shiny body suit, plunging V-neck dress, or cutout crop top that seemed contrived to make even the most attractive body look ridiculous.
Now, as American Apparel is offering coupon code for a 40-percent discount on every item on its website in its company-wide fire sale, some of these ill-thought-out designs can be purchased for a song. I trawled through the site’s sale section to find a few perplexing items that are marked way down even before you apply the 40-percent discount. If you’re looking for a keepsake to remember American Apparel’s signature aesthetic by, consider one of these. (All current prices listed below reflect the 40-percent discount, and prices and availability are obviously subject to change.)
The JCC Bomb Threats Confirm That Jewish Parents Are Right to Be Afraid
On Wednesday, more than 30 Jewish Community Centers in 17 states received bomb threats, some of which led to evacuations and all of which turned out to be false alarms. These came ten days after a previous round of threats called into 16 JCCs in the Northeast and South. Those earlier threats were prerecorded; this time around most of the calls were live and came from a woman who kept her message brief, according to the JTA. The threats, which some call “telephone terrorism,” are the latest sign of rising anti-semitism around the United States, including a spike in online harassment and hate crimes.
Non-Jews might think of JCCs primarily as sites of cultural and religious programming, but many JCCs also run child care, preschool, and after-school programs. There are nearly 150 locations around the United States, making them the largest network of Jewish early childhood centers in the nation. JCCs are also no strangers to violence, and incidents occurring at JCCs over the last two decades have killed four adults and wounded a number of adults and children.
Trump’s Planned Elimination of Violence Against Women Grants Is Pure Cruelty
Donald Trump’s incoming administration is planning “dramatic” federal budget cuts, according to a report from the Hill this morning. The article’s estimates of the dollar amount of the proposed damage are way overblown, but several large programs and entire chunks of federal agencies are definitely on the chopping block.
That includes all 25 of the grant programs managed by the Office on Violence Against Women, housed in the Department of Justice. The grants, established by 1994’s Violence Against Women Act and other federal legislation, go to organizations working to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and elder abuse.
They also support survivors of assault and abuse—some grants are earmarked for transitional housing assistance, legal aid, and trainings to help civil and criminal justice systems better respond to sexual and domestic violence. There are grants specifically targeted at protecting child victims, residents of tribal lands, women with disabilities, children who’ve witnessed the abuse of a parent, and rural women.
The Women’s March Has Announced Its Official Route and List of Speakers
The Women’s March on Washington has finally announced the route it’ll take this Saturday after a morning rally near the National Mall.
From the stage area at the intersection of 3rd Street and Independence Avenue SW, near the National Museum of the American Indian, demonstrators will march west on Independence to 14th Street NW. Then, they’ll turn right onto 14th, walk to Constitution Avenue, and take a left, marching west to 17th Street. There, near the Washington Monument and the White House’s Ellipse, the march will end. It’s a short march, but with tens of thousands of demonstrators expected, it’ll probably be slow going.