DOWNTOWN — The Women's March on Chicago Saturday was reportedly the third largest march of its kind outside Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, organizers said.
An estimated 250,000 people took part in the march, Chicago organizers said, far exceeding the 50,000 who were expected to show up. The crowd was so large that the march was canceled and organizers said they would rally in place — though thousands still took to the streets.
"It was mind-blowing. It just shows there are a lot of women and women's advocates that wanted to make their voices heard," said organizer Liz Radford. "We were so happy to provide a forum where they could come out and do that. ... It was surreal."
The march was held to unite people and protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump. Dozens of speakers spoke not just of the need to push for women's causes, like access to safe abortions, but also of the need to help people with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ people, those in jail, victims of gun violence, young parents and Muslims, among other topics.
And the way they could address those issues, speakers said over and over again to cheers, was by calling and writing to lawmakers, holding Trump accountable, running for office and helping and encouraging women and other minorities.
"When women fight back there's no going back anymore!" one woman cried out to loud cheers from the diverse crowd. People rose to their feet and clapped when she shouted, "We are the power! We are the women!"
Radford said the march gave a voice to many issues because they had been put under the spotlight by "negative campaign rhetoric" and that she and other organizers wanted people to step out of their comfort zone to help others.
"I think everyone who was involved in the march should feel empowered," Radford said. "There's a lot of help out there that needs to be done."
Organizer Jaquie Algee said there were no incidents at the march, adding there had been "nothing but love." She hopes Trump will have a "serious change of mind" and will use the women's marches — which were held on all seven continents in numerous U.S. cities and foreign countries — to forge a better relationship with women.
"I can't tell you how much it's meant to me to be a part of this march," Algee said. "I was praying for bigger and better than we hoped and planned for. This exceeded it.
"They better look out because we are unstoppable. Women are unstopabble."
We have reached capacity - over 150K! We are going to rally in place. #WomensMarch— Womens March Chi (@womensmarchchi) January 21, 2017
Despite the capacity announcement, crowds took to the streets and marched through Downtown as the rally in Grant Park continued.
The rally and march are similar to ones that will take place across the country, including in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles.
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