The crowds are not expected to be as large as last January, when more than 1 million people marched across the globe to protest the presidency of Donald Trump, who was inaugurated a day earlier. Still, if all goes according to plans hatched by a variety of activist groups, protests will unfold this weekend in all 50 states and several foreign countries.
“I think they will be smaller, but I think they will be more focused,” said Linda Sarsour, one of the co-organizers of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. That march was among the largest in American history, and protesters flooded the National Mall and streets throughout the capital.
In all, hundreds of events are planned for Saturday and Sunday, dubbed the #WeekendofWomen on social media.
Last year’s marches often reflected discontent, if not anger, and “resistance” was a common theme. This year the focus is on amassing electoral power. In Los Angeles, where organizers last year rallied supporters with the cry “Hear our voice!”, the call to action in 2018 is “Hear our vote!”
The marquee event this year, organized by Sarsour’s group, will be a rally Sunday in Las Vegas to kick off “Power to the Polls,” a national voter registration campaign. The campaign will target swing states — battleground election states such as Nevada and Florida — to engage voters in 2018 and to elect candidates, especially women, who reflect the principles of the Women’s March, according to Sarsour.
The Las Vegas rally will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium. Participants will include Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), among others.
March organizers are facilitating bus transport from Los Angeles and Oxnard, and American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand at the event.
In California, marches have been organized up and down the state, with crowds expected in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Sacramento.
The Los Angeles event, headlined by California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, will begin at Pershing Square on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. participants will march to Grand Park, where speeches and entertainment will continue until about 3 p.m.
There will be plenty of star power, with celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Yvette Nicole Brown and Laverne Cox scheduled to take the stage. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis will also attend.
Organizers are encouraging participants to arrive by bus, metro or ride-share. With some 200,000 people expected by the organizers, Metro will be adding train service and security for the event and is recommending that travelers buy and load TAP cards in advance to avoid massive lines.
Food trucks and restrooms will also be set up for the event.
In Washington, D.C., the Virginia chapter of the Women’s March is sponsoring a rally with musicians and civil rights activists at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial at 11 a.m. on Saturday. At 1 p.m. the group will march to the White House.
The number of participants will be nowhere near the estimated half-million last year. As of Friday afternoon, about 10,000 people had indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they would attend.
In New York, where more than 400,000 people marched last year from a plaza near the United Nations to Trump Tower, the Women’s March Alliance is organizing a rally and march beginning at Central Park and 61st Street.
Speakers at the rally, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, will include Miss Native American USA Autumn Rose Miskweminanocsqua Williams, Muslim educator and activist Debbie Almontaser and two “surprise guests,” according to the event’s website.
The march, expected to begin around 12:30 or 1 p.m., will proceed south around Columbus Circle, east on 59th Street and south on 6th Avenue until 43rd Street, near Times Square.
There will likely be a strong police presence in light of recent attacks on New York City, including a pipe bomb in a subway tunnel and a truck driver attack on a pedestrian path on Manhattan’s west side.
Marchers will step off in places large (Houston) and small (Dothan, Ala.), and the names of the events or their organizers capture the mood of this year’s protests, such as the Feminist Action Collective in Duluth, Minn. In Arvada, Colo., there’s Arvadans for Progressive Action and in Bloomington, Iowa, the Bloomington Resistance March.
Some names are straightforward, like March on Maryland in Annapolis. And up in New England, the protest in Bangor is sponsored by a group with a rather gentle name, the Maine Common Good Coalition.