LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A massive crowd surrounded Pershing Square Saturday and marched to City Hall in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and similar events being held in cities nationwide to protest the presidency of Donald Trump.
The Los Angeles Police Department reported “hundreds of thousands” of attendees, according to KNX Reporter Cooper Rummell. On Saturday afternoon LAPD issued a traffic advisory warning drivers to avoid the downtown area through the rest of the day, specifically the area of Cesar Chavez to the north, Olympic to the south, the 110 Freeway to the west and Alameda Street to the east.
The Los Angeles Fire Department described the event as peaceful. During the course of the march, 10 people were assessed by firefighters and only one required transport to a local hospital, LAFD said. No serious injuries were reported and there was no word of any arrests.
Thousands of people heading downtown from the Westside for Saturday’s Women’s March stood stranded on Metro platforms unable to squeeze onto packed trains.
Metro officials had added service and beefed up security to accommodate the anticipated crowd. Westside and San Fernando Valley station platforms were jam-packed with riders as full trains stopped, unable to take on more people. Some waited hours to purchase TAP cards and board the trains.
The mission statement for the march read, in part, “We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
Organizers stressed that the event is non-partisan and not a protest, but a “celebration of human rights.”
That spirit was borne out by peaceful crowds singing “This Land Is Our Land” and a general air of exuberance despite the pedestrian gridlock downtown.
Groups backing a wide variety of priorities were on hand, advocating for issues ranging from women’s rights to environmental protections, access to healthcare and immigrant and LGBTQ rights.
“Women’s rights are human rights,” read some signs.
A 6-year-old being pushed in a stroller by her dad carried a sign bedazzled with peace signs reading,
“The power of a girl is to change the world.”
Some marchers were outspoken about their distaste for the new president, with some briefly taking up a chant of “You’re fired.”
The Washington, D.C., march that sparked local “sister” marches like the one in Los Angeles was deliberately planned for the day after President Trump’s inauguration. And many of the individuals and groups planning to participate stand in opposition to Trump and his policies as laid out on the
campaign trail and during his transition to office.
About five dozen celebrities, including Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laverne Cox signed up to attend the local event. Public officials were also out in force, with many scheduled to speak before and after the approximately one-mile march from Pershing Square to City Hall.
Many of these celebrities sung along with Helen Reddy while she sang her iconic song about female empowerment, “I Am Woman.”
Angela Kohler came to the event nine months pregnant. No way, she said, that she could miss the event.
“I can [deliver] any time. My doctor is here and my hospital is about a mile away,” she told CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were all expected to offer words of encouragement to the crowd and underline the fact that this is far from a women-only event.
The diversity of concerns was highlighted by the fact that at least one group has scheduled its own alternate ending to the day. AF3IRM and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network is set to leave the main march at noon and lead a “Chant Down the Walls” action at the Metropolitan Detention
Center. Organizers are committed to maintaining the peace and an LAPD spokeswoman said no arrests had been made as of late morning.
Nguyen reported that some of the celebrities he spoke to were divided on whether the event was a protest or a rally.
“I don’t see it as a protest, per se, “said Francis Fisher, “I’m not against anything.”
Idina Menzel didn’t feel the same way,
“She’s being kind,” Menzel says “And I feel. I feel angry.”
March coordinators took to Twitter on Friday to offer a reminder to those planning to attend. “Do not rise to provocation; if asked bullying or intimidating or inciting questions, don’t engage,” the tweet read.
The huge throng of protesters overwhelmed city transit. Several protesters said they waited hours to find an empty train to take them downtown.
After the peaceful protest ended, a group of a couple hundred people split off and continued to demonstrate.
KCAL9’s Jennifer Kastner said a group went through Union Station holding signs and chanting.
Another group tried to take control of the 101 Freeway but police were there to keep protesters back, she reported.
Police told her there were no arrests.
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