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Nevada County women (and men, and children) join worldwide movement

The point was to promote peace, women’s rights and activism.

It turned into a worldwide stance in defiance of President Donald Trump.

From Nevada City to Sacramento to San Francisco all the way to Washington, D.C., to Paris to Sydney, Australia, more than 600 “sister gatherings” attracted more than a million people around the world, according to organizers.

Closer to home, folks gathered in the cold rain early Saturday morning at locations across Nevada County to head down to the march in Sacramento. And for the folks who weren’t able to make it to Sacramento, an impromptu group headed to Nevada City for a march of their own.

The most common theme across the marches was women’s rights, sparked by comments made and platforms presented by Trump during his campaign. Concerns did seem to spread beyond that to civil rights in general, however.

“We’re here to protect our reproductive rights,” said Nevada City marcher Jan Hayword. “We’re here because of rights of immigrants.”

Jan’s sister, Dee, who was also at the march added, “Transgender, gay and lesbian rights, too.”

Jan jumped back in with, “The rights of African Americans.”

Then, unrehearsed and in unison, the sisters said, “civil rights.”

They were happy to go on, alternating between the sisters with issues from foreign policy to health care.

The pair were even donning pink knit “pussyhats,” a message of female empowerment aimed squarely at Trump’s crude boast about grabbing women’s genitals made famous when a video was released prior to the November election.

Keeping up on social media the marchers were able to see they were part of a much, much larger whole. Asked if they were surprised, the Hayword sisters said, “Not at all.”

“Trump has galvanized a whole segment of society,” Jan Hayword said. “We don’t want to be taken back to the ’50s.”

Another Nevada City marcher, Katherine Dorsch, said she wasn’t surprised by the worldwide turnout, either.

“People should stand up and not just watch our country go down the tubes, and our planet with it,” Dorsch said. “People need to really think and question and not accept the status quo. We need to act sooner rather than later.”

The Hayword’s said they haven’t been active in the past, but Trump’s election and inauguration was enough to get them out of their homes and onto the Broad Street bridge.

“I’m here because people need to pay more attention and not be complacent,” said Dee Hayword, standing atop the bridge. “I was definitely one of those people. I was complacent. But complacency is what got us Trump.”

Dorsch also pointed out that it wasn’t just women involved in the marches.

“It is amazing how many women are involved, but it’s not just women,” Dorsch said. “There are also a lot of men and children out there.”

After 8 a.m. on Saturday morning three chartered buses left the downtown Safeway parking lot for the Sacramento march. Numerous other groups organized buses and carpools and countless others hopped in their cars and headed down as well.

“I think there’s been a lot of interest by women in Nevada County on how to stand up, and what’s important to us is to do it in a peaceful way,” said Beth Freedman, one of the people that helped organize a group from the Unitarian Universalist church community. “We’re tired of pointing fingers and the old political process.

“For us, Black Lives Matter. Health Care Matters. Women’s Rights matter. This is a chance for us to stand up and say what we want. To stand up for human rights.”

Surprising numbers showed up everywhere from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles to Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, London, Prague and Sydney.

The Washington rally alone attracted more than 500,000 people by the unofficial estimate of city officials — and, according to reports, more than Trump’s inauguration drew on Friday. The international outpouring served to underscore the degree to which Trump has unsettled people in both hemispheres.

“We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war,” actress America Ferrera told the Washington crowd. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. … We are America, and we are here to stay.”

Turnout in the capital was so heavy that the designated march route alongside the National Mall was impassable. Protesters were told to make their way to the Ellipse near the White House by way of other streets, triggering a chaotic scene that snarled downtown Washington.

Around the world, women brandished signs with slogans such as “Women won’t back down” and “Less fear more love.” They decried Trump’s stand on such issues as abortion, health care, diversity and climate change. And they branded him a sexist, a bully, a bigot and more.

“We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter,” some marchers chanted in Washington. Others: “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!”

In Chicago, organizers canceled the march portion of their event for safety reasons after the overflow crowd reached an estimated 150,000. People made their way through the streets on their own anyway. In New York, well over 100,000 marched past Trump’s home at glittering Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. More than 100,000 also gathered on Boston Common, and a similar number demonstrated in Los Angeles.

In Miami, real estate agent Regina Vasquez, 51, brought a sign saying “Repeal and Replace Trump.”

“I believe that strength is in the numbers, and that we should all come out and not make Trump the new normal,” she said.

All told, more than 600 “sister marches” were planned worldwide. Crowd estimates in total from police and organizers around the globe added up to more than two million.

“I feel very optimistic even though it’s a miserable moment,” said Madeline Schwartzman of New York City, who brought her twin 13-year-old daughters to the Washington rally. “I feel power.”

Retired teacher Linda Lastella, 69, who came to Washington from Metuchen, New Jersey, said she had never marched before but felt the need to speak out when “many nations are experiencing this same kind of pullback and hateful, hateful attitudes.”

“It just seemed like we needed to make a very firm stand of where we were,” she said.

As the demonstrators rallied alongside the National Mall, Trump opened his first full day as president by attending a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral, a tradition for the day after inauguration, and later visited the CIA. As he traveled around town, his motorcade passed large groups of protesters that would have been hard to miss.

The Women’s March on Washington appeared to accomplish the historic feat of drawing more people to protest the inauguration than the ceremony itself attracted.

It far surpassed the 60,000 people who protested the Vietnam War at Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1973. Before Saturday, that was thought to be the largest such demonstration in inaugural history.

The rallies were a peaceful counterpoint to the window-smashing unrest that unfolded on Friday when self-described anarchists tried to disrupt the inauguration. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades against the demonstrators. More than 200 people were arrested. Marlita Gogan, who came to Washington from Houston for the inauguration, said police advised her family not to wear their “Make America Great Again Hats” as they walked through crowds of protesters while playing tourist on Saturday.

“I think it’s very oppressive,” she said of the march atmosphere. “They can have their day, but I don’t get it.”

Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump, took to Twitter to thank the participants for “standing, speaking and marching for our values.”

The marches displayed a level of enthusiasm that Clinton herself was largely unable to generate during her campaign against Trump, when she won the popular vote but he outdistanced her in the electoral vote.

The hand-knit “pussyhats” worn by many women served as a message of female empowerment.

They “ain’t for grabbing,” actress Ashley Judd told the Washington crowd.

The marches were a magnet for A-list celebrities, unlike Trump’s inauguration, which had a deficit of top performers.

Alicia Keys sang “Girl on Fire” for the Washington crowd. Madonna gave a fiery, profanity-laced address to the gathering. Cher, also in the nation’s capital, said Trump’s ascendance has people “more frightened maybe than they’ve ever been.”

In Park City, Utah, it was Charlize Theron leading demonstrators in a chant of “Love, not hate, makes America great.” Actresses Helen Mirren and Cynthia Nixon and Whoopi Goldberg joined the crowd of protesters in New York.

Tens of thousands of protesters squeezed into London’s Trafalgar Square. In Paris, thousands rallied in the Eiffel Tower neighborhood in a joyful atmosphere, singing and carrying posters reading “We have our eyes on you Mr. Trump” and “With our sisters in Washington.” Hundreds gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square in freezing weather, mockingly waving portraits of Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In Sydney, thousands of Australians gathered in solidarity in Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems.

Ross Maak is the City Editor at The Union. He can be reached at rmaak@theunion.com or (530) 477-4229. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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