OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Tens of thousands of people jammed streets in downtown Oakland Saturday for the Women’s March, one of hundreds happening worldwide in response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
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The crowd stretched blocks and blocks through Oakland, encompassing the entire western shore of Lake Merritt, from Grand Avenue to Broadway and all the way to Frank Ogawa Plaza. The California Highway Patrol and the city of Oakland estimated the crowd at 60,000. The march in Oakland was one of several across the Bay Area on Saturday.
Organizers called for an event in Washington, D.C., as a show of unity in the wake of the election of Trump in November. Officials in Washington estimated there were 500,000 people participating in the march there.
After sporadic rain Friday drenched Bay Area protests of Trump’s inauguration, the clouds parted Saturday as marchers began to gather at the Lake Merritt BART station at about 10 a.m. Despite running extra long trains, BART had delays coming into Lake Merritt because of the extremely crowded station.
While there were many men in the diverse crowd, a significant majority of attendees were women and girls who carried signs with messages like, “women’s rights are human rights” and “hear me roar.”
Marchers showed up to support a variety of issues they feel are threatened by the Trump Administration in addition to women’s rights, such as immigration, the environment, racial issues and economic justice. As the march began, a brass band blared “hit me with your best shot.”
Kai Gelphman of Santa Rosa stood waiting for her niece in the plaza above the Lake Merritt BART station with a sign that said, “74,074,037 people are speaking up!” referencing the number of people who voted for a candidate other than Trump, including Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein.
“I’m really so impressed that so many people turned out,” she said. “I think it makes a powerful statement.”
Police reported heavy traffic in the downtown area and asked residents to use alternate routes and to avoid parking in the area due to limited spaces.
Also, the CHP closed the Oak Street off-ramp on northbound Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland due to large crowds. They also advised drivers to use alternate routes.
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