Women took to the streets in unexpectedly large numbers in major U.S. cities on Saturday to stage mass protests against U.S. President Donald Trump, in an early indication of the strong public opposition the Republican may face in office. Hundreds of thousands of women - many wearing pink knit hats - fanned out through downtown Washington around the White House and other landmarks, and also thronged parts of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to rebuke Trump on his first full day in office.
Trump has angered many liberal Americans with comments seen as demeaning to women, Mexicans and Muslims, and worried some abroad with his inaugural vow on Friday to put "America First" in his decision making.
The Women's March on Washington appeared to be larger than the crowds that turned out the previous day to witness Trump's inauguration on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Organizers of the protest had told police they expected 200,000 people to attend but the crowd looked substantially bigger than that, stretching for about a mile (1.6 km).
A planned march in Chicago grew so large that organizers did not attempt to parade through the streets but instead staged a rally. Police said more than 125,000 people attended. [L1N1FB0KI]
The protests illustrated the depth of the division in the country which is still recovering from the bitterly-fought 2016 election campaign. Trump stunned the world by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. party.
Pam Foyster, a 58-year-old resident of Ridgway, Colorado, said Saturday's atmosphere reminded her of 1960s U.S. protests against the Vietnam War. "I'm 58 years old and I can't believe we are having to do this again," Foyster said in Washington. After the Vietnam War the push for women's rights and civil rights made her "believe anything was possible. But here we are again."
Although his party now controls both the White House and Congress, Trump faces entrenched opposition from segments of the public at the start of his term, a period that is typically more of a honeymoon for a new president.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump had the lowest favorability rating of any incoming U.S. president since the 1970s. Tens of thousands of protesters filled midtown Manhattan and thousands of women also took to the streets of Sydney, London, Tokyo and other cities in Europe and Asia in "sister marches" against Trump.
Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that "I am honored to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!" but made no mention of the protests. He attended an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral and then visited the CIA headquarters.