Wearing pink "pussy hats" homeknit to resemble cat ears and flying fallopian tube banners reading "Don't tread on me," some 100,000 people marched on the Minnesota Capitol on Saturday. They were young, old, piggybacking on their mothers, and joined by the men who support them.
St. Paul's Women's March against President Donald Trump was one of the largest protests in state history. Sister marches, some drawing hundreds of thousands, were held simultaneously in all 50 states and around the world.
SPPD estimates that there were between 90,000 and 100,000 people at today's #WomensMarch in St. Paul, MN.— St. Paul Police PIO (@sppdPIO) January 22, 2017
The crowd was so large that even as the first marchers ascended the Capitol mall, others were still waiting to leave the starting point of St. Paul College. For those who could get close enough to hear, a star-studded lineup of feminist leaders saluted the glass ceiling smashers of generations past, while urging the crowd to resist Trump policies. Among them were Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, State Rep. Ilhan Omar, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, former Minneapolis NAACP chief Nekima Levy-Pounds, and Planned Parenthood CEO Sarah Stoesz.
"We woke up to a president who had completely eliminated references to climate change from the White House webpage," Hodges said.
"We woke up to a president who took the nation's leading white supremacist and made him his chief strategist. We woke up to a president who took a woman who despises the public schools and nominated her to the department of Education, and we woke up to a president who has chosen a man for national security advisor who has referred to Islam as a vicious cancer. Not in my America. Not in our America, because we also woke up to this beloved community."
Still, thoughts lingered on those who weren't there.
Jocelyn Grygar, 25, attended the march to be among like-minded women on the first day of Trump's presidency. "We just wanted to say we're here, we're not going to be silenced, not gonna back down," she said.
But back home, things are a lot more complicated. Grygar's father voted for Trump, and try as she might, she can't comprehend how any man with a daughter could vote for a presidential candidate who would forcibly grab women's genitals.
"What Trump stands for, the way he talks about women and immigrants, I don't understand how he could vote for him and still say, 'I love you,'" Grygar said. "It's hard to process that and still have a relationship. I still do, obviously. I'm trying."
There was also the uncomfortable acknowledgement that if all women really had come together in the last election, they wouldn't have had to raise hell at the steps of the Capitol. The Women's March may have attracted every kind of woman in Minnesota except for the hardline Republican.
"What we can say to them is, 'What are you first? Are you a Republican or did you come out as a woman? You didn't even know what politics were until you were of age, but before that, you had your --" said 24-year-old Aria Weatherspoon, motioning her uteral area. "'Is that something you think about when you're making those political decisions? Or is it about womanhood? Or is it about racism? Is it about Islamophobia? Is it about xenophobia? Is it about those things you felt stronger about than your vaginas?'"
Still, the march was a powerful show of force, Weatherspoon said. In attending with her mom, Vivian Mims, she was touched to see how many others were also mother-daughter pairs.
"I've been to plenty of marches where the showup was not what it needed to be for the caliber of the issue we're trying to tackle. But today, I'm very impressed, very touched by the energy that's out here."
The Women's March was entirely peaceful. Police arrested only one person -- a Trump supporter who pepper sprayed protesters.