WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of people joined a protest march in the nation’s capital Saturday that dwarfed the numbers that turned out for the presidential inauguration the day before.

The Women’s March on Washington included about 150 from Hawaii who marched together with signs reading “ALOHA for ALL” and “WAHINE POWER,” which proved to be big hits with their fellow marchers.

Repelled by the campaign rhetoric of President Donald Trump, the women (and some men) journeyed to Washington to demonstrate their opposition to his stated views on the environment, reproductive rights and immigration.

Hawaii marchers 2017 Womens March Washington DC. 21 jan 2017

Some state groups actually moved aside to allow the Hawaii contingent to pass amid calls of “Aloha.”

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A human sea filled the spacious lawns surrounding the Capitol and mall area and spread out into the adjacent blocks, shouting slogans, leading cheers and applauding the antics of other demonstrators. It was an unusually warm winter day and it soon assumed a carnival atmosphere.

Many of the women wore pink woolen hats with two points jutting up, like ears, called “pussy hats,” to parody Trump’s crude audiotaped comments about women’s genitalia. That tape came to light during the campaign and is among the Trump comments that have made many people fear that the economic and social gains women have made in the past 50 years could be at risk.

National Event With Island Roots

The march was the brainchild of a Maui woman, Teresa Shook, who conceived it as a way to demonstrate solidarity for progressive views in America. The movement spread virally through online communities of like-minded friends and relatives, and the momentum swept the nation, spawning not only the D.C. event but also similar marches in other cities and on each of the main Hawaiian islands.

“As soon as I heard this was circulating, nothing could stop me from being here,” said Kim Abrahamson of Maui, as she helped get the group ready to march early Saturday. “I was absolutely compelled by the need to be here to stand up for human rights and for our planet.”

The Hawaii contingent gathered at Stanton & Greene, a trendy restaurant on Capitol Hill, which opened at 7 a.m. to provide a comfortable launch pad. Over several hours, small groups of people from Hawaii or with ties to Hawaii filtered into an upstairs room, where they were met with hugs and an aloha greeting and a handmade ti leaf lei by Jennifer Kagiwada, a marcher from Hilo.

Hilo resident Jennifer Kagiwada gives Sen Mazie Hirono a ti leaf lei before march at Stanton and Greene. Washington DC. 21 jan 2017

Hilo resident Jennifer Kagiwada gives Sen. Mazie Hirono a kiss and a ti leaf lei before the march.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

For many, it was the first protest march of their lives.

“I’m usually the quiet background person,” said Mallory Armstrong, a retired computer program analyst from Maui. “This is the first time I’ve ever done something like that.”

Abrahamson nodded in agreement, saying, “The silver lining is this has created a lot of activists.”

U.S. senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono welcomed the group. Hirono noted Hawaii was the first state in the union to make abortion legal.

“That was 35 or 40 years ago and the battle still continues,” Hirono said, adding that minority rights, immigrants and gay people would all be coming under attack from Congress and the White House.

“I’ll be right in there fighting with all of you, all the way,” Sen. Hirono promised the crowd.

Schatz praised Hirono’s leadership on women’s issues. “What a trailblazer she’s been,” he said.

Donna Howard Hawaii marchers 2017 Womens March Washington DC. 21 jan 2017

Donna Howard of Maui came to the event with her sister.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Hawaii contingent took to the streets with gusto, holding aloft signs, including some that were handmade.

As they marched together through the dense throng on the street, other state-based groups frequently stepped aside to make way for them, murmuring “Hawaii” with praise and admiration. Other demonstrators applauded the appearance of the Hawaii group, pointing the islanders out as celebrities in the crowd.

“They are from Hawaii — they flew 14 hours to be here,” one woman passing in the other direction excitedly said to another. Some passersby called out “Aloha!”

The Hawaii residents traveled together to D.C. in groups. For many it was a multi-generational enterprise, with middle-aged sisters marching together and grandmothers walking shoulder to shoulder with their adult daughters.

Donna Howard, 74, of Maui came with her sister. Hayley Wynn, 21, a student at the University of Hawaii Manoa, came to the march with her mother, who lives in Hawaii Kai.

“All the women are fighting for all of us,” Wynn said. “We are coming together to fight for a cause.”

It Wasn’t All Aloha

The event itself, however, was chaotic. Word within the group was that the national protest leaders had fought over how to best prove their inclusiveness and give voice to specific groups.

It was impossible for almost anyone to reach the stage. Madonna sang but who could have known? The speeches angry, disjointed and vague. For much of the day it wasn’t clear if and when a march would occur so the state groups wound around aimlessly on the streets, often stuck in pedestrian gridlock with thousands of other protesters.

Some people had warned there could be violence, and yet there was no visible public security. Large crowds were pressed into confined areas behind metal fences erected for crowd control during the inauguration.

The event was well-attended but not well-organized, with large crowds sometimes pressed into confined areas.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Sarah Pistone, a college student and Green Party supporter from New York who held up a sign criticizing the Democratic National Committee, said she got a lot of dirty looks from the marchers. She said she thought a lot of them were Hillary Clinton supporters who had allowed Sen. Bernie Sanders to be driven from the presidential race and then were disappointed that their party lost.

In her hometown of Nyack, New York, she said, Clinton supporters live in “big mansions, with immigrant gardeners and housekeepers.” She said she thought many of the protesters were privileged people playing at being victims.

“It seems like it’s a vacation for them, a day trip,” she said. “They are here with a sign but at the end of the day they won’t do anything. There’s a lot of hypocrisy there.”

The majority of the crowd was white, about the same ratio as the crowd on the previous day at the inauguration. But where the Trump supporters looked working class, many of the Saturday marchers appeared more affluent, wearing expensive ski and outdoor wear.

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