Seattle Women's March 2.0


Yesterday marked the seventh protest march over the past year that could qualify as an "Anti-Trump" march, which is why I have them grouped in their own photo set collection there on Flickr. (Another collection features all eleven protests and/or demonstrations -- the others having to do with gay rights and same-sex marriage -- I've participated in since 2000. As you can see, there was a pretty significant uptick in 2017.)

Yesterday's event yielded about thirty shots, down from forty at the Women's March that kicked everything off a year ago. I might have gotten more, but for two things: 1) last year Danielle and her friend Lisa and their kids all joined me, along with Shobhit, and this year it was only Shobhit; and 2) we did not see a single one of the speakers this year.

They did have them, of course. But this year, instead of starting the Women's March at Judkins Park -- three and a half miles from the end point at Seattle Center -- they started where they began all of last year's subsequent marches, at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill -- which is roughly two miles from Seattle Center, where it also ended.

Now. The Women's March, both last year and this year, has been far larger than any other march throughout the year. The crowds have been massive. I thought maybe Judkins Park was a bit bigger, but evidently not: although Seattle Parks & Recreation inexplicably stopped listing acreage on their park web pages, this page says it's 6 acres, whereas Wikipedia lists Cal Anderson Park as 7.37 acres. Hmm. Indeed, then as now, waiting crowds before the march began were packed among several blocks surrounding the park.

And that's a big part of why Shobhit and I did not see any of the speakers. The event yesterday was listed as beginning at 10 a.m., but with the march not scheduled to start until 11:30, which we knew to mean the marching would not actually begin until roughly noon at the earliest. We didn't even bother to leave home until close to 10:30, knowing it would be at least until then before speakers even started. And besids, unlike Judkins Park -- which Shobhit and I actually walked to last year before marching back up to downtown -- Cal Anderson Park is all of four blocks from where we live. So we had no pressing need to get going all that early this time around.

That said, the crowd was already pretty massive by the time we were just a couple of blocks away, Pine Street packed with people outside the crowd in the park already. Police had blocked off Pine at 12th Avenue, a block east (toward our place) from the park.

I still wanted to get some pictures, of course, so we walked through the thickening crowd inside Bobby Morris Playfield. I was surprised no one was speaking yet, and wondered if anyone even would. As we made our way through to the west side of the park, I did see a stage with speakers -- I guess they just hadn't started yet. But the crowd was so huge, and we had long ago learned our lesson from last year when it took literally two hours just to file out of the park once the march was underway, we decided we would make our way to where the front of the march would be, so we wouldn't be waiting for ages just to get out of there.

And, over the course of maybe the next hour, we slowly made our way further and further west down Pine before the march actually began. First we were slowly making our way down Pine to Broadway -- I got this shot of crowd spillover on 10th as we walked by.

We waited for a little while at Pine and Broadway, where the crowd was poised and ready to start. By now I'm sure speakers were actually talking at the park, but we were too far away to hear them, and gratefully not to be behind everyone. Crowd control volunteers kept asking, largely in vain, for everyone to stay behind the crosswalk line and not in the middle of the street or intersection. They tried to keep the crosswalks across Broadway clear and were only moderately successful.

We noticed, though, that crowds were thickening on the sidewalks on either side of Pine on the next block over toward downtown -- the direction the march would be going -- and so we crossed the street and went to make our way closer to the front of even that crowd. That was when I noticed, one block further down, people standing on top of the parking garage on the northwest corner of Pine and Harvard, clearly getting a nice, bird's-eye view of the crowd from one level up from the street. I decided I wanted to go up there to get some photos, and Shobhit happily obliged. We waited up there until the march officially started, as I wanted to get photos of the march passing up from up there. If you look at the full photo set on Flickr, you'll see the several shots I got from up there, including this brief video, which I took after moving to the west side of the parking garage:


Once I was satisfied with the photo opportunities from up there, we quickly made our way down the stairs back to street level, and marched the rest of the way with the crowd.

The route was down Pine to Fourth, then up Fourth to Seattle Center, as the majority of these marches tend to be anymore (unless there is a specific reason for it to start somewhere else, such as last year's Tax March initiating at the Federal Building downtown).

There was a pretty significant delay around Pine and 9th, due to the Indigenous group leaving the march stopping for reasons I could not decipher -- although I'm sure there was some specific reason for it. Whatever it was, it certainly backed up the huge march behind them massively. Shobhit and I grew impatient and walked ahead, going down to the men's level at Norstrom just to kill time until they started moving again. They must have done so right after we went inside, because once we came back out, not ten minutes later, they had moved well past us again.

There was even an odd split in the crowd, where they turned right onto Sixth instead of Fourth, and I thought maybe the whole thing had been rerouted for some reason. We followed on Sixth after getting out of Nordstrom, and discovered after this stream of people turned left on Stewart Street to get back down to Fourth, there were still other crowds already going up Fourth from Pine as originally intended. Shobhit and I walked another block or so north on Fifth just to bypass the sardine-packed crowd backing up where they were reuniting on Fourth, and then we found ourselves right by the front where the Indigenous group was again.

Then we walked the rest of the way to Seattle Center without incident, and my photo ops became less frequent. Shobhit had made small puris in the morning, after we had also had very well-made and delicious and filling pancakes for breakfast, which we brought along with a leftover potato and broccoli dish he made the other day. As soon as we reached Seattle Center, instead of flowing with the crowd into the open space outside in the middle of Seattle Center, we went straight to the Armory, found ourselves a table, and had our leftovers for lunch. This also included a tumbler cup of White Russian cocktail. I was still rather full from the pancakes though so I was unable to eat very much of this food -- only two or three of the small puris, which were much smaller than Shobhit usually makes them, these maybe four inches across. Shobhit finished the potato dish and we both finished off the cocktail, so now my bag was notably lighter, at least.

I wanted to check out the crowd and maybe get another picture or two before we headed back. I got one picture of that, as the crowd was still not very big at Seattle Center -- we walked home after seeing how massive the line to the Monorail was (which I knew it would be and Shobhit was convinced it would be too early to get that busy), so we walked all the way home. Crossing Fifth Avenue again, the march was still going through. We made our way across Denny and then walked south along Sixth, and we could still see the marchers on Fourth Avenue from there as well. Once we reached Pine, though, the marchers were done there, and we walked home up Pine only passing the occasional very last-minute stragglers.

So: well, we participated. I can't say we exactly learned anything since we didn't actually hear a single speech this time around, but I'm okay with that -- it was worth not getting stuck in the bottle necking crowds leaving the inside the park like what happened last year. I go to all these marches, but just like Shobhit, I'm all about getting at or near the front of it, to minimize endlessly pointless waiting. Numbers do matter, though, and I'm glad we were there.

Last year they went out of their way to try tracking how many participated, and we were told before the march even ended that we were 130,000-strong. They passed out dots for tracking at that event, though, and no one seemed to be doing that this year. I couldn't find any estimate this year that got any more specific than "tens of thousands." It was indeed huge, easily bigger than any protest of the past year other than the first Women's March, but Seattle's last year was definitely bigger this year. There were sister marches across the globe again, and some other cities were cited in news sources as being larger this year -- but, obviously, not all of them.

Shobhit and I got home, watched the first episode of season two of Fargo, then went to do some shopping at Costco. Soon after we returned and put all the groceries away, Ivan and Shobhit and I all watched Ivan's netflix copy of Cry-Baby. Shobhit clearly has little knowledge of John Waters movies and how specific they are in their deliberate campines; at the beginning, he was commenting on how awful it was. By the end, he was laughing regularly. That movie is ridiculous, not by any stretch John Waters's best, but it's entertaining in its very John Waters-y way.

Shobhit and I watched some more TV for the rest of the evening, I got tired a bit earlier than usual, and for once I slept like a baby all through the night -- until Guru woke me up around 6 a.m. with his incesant meowing, which he continued even after I finally got up and fed him around 6:45. I may murder him soon.