Thousands of people braved the rainy, windswept streets around the Hawaii Capitol on Saturday to join the Women’s March on Oahu to defend women’s rights in the face of the incoming Trump administration.
It was one of hundreds of such events throughout the islands and around the nation Saturday that attracted about 3 million.
In Honolulu, organizers estimated 3,000-5,000 people attended despite winds that were so strong at times that the rain fell in horizontal sheets.
Women, some carrying signs or sporting lettering in shirts reading “Nasty Woman” (one of Donald Trump’s many denunciations of Hillary Clinton), plus a lot of men, children and dogs, walked and stood together to make a stand for women and civil rights, safety, health, families and a whole host of other issues.
For a while, the line of marchers stretched from the Queen Liliuokalani statue on the makai side of the Capitol, down Richards Street, up King Street to Punchbowl Street, and back along Beretania Street to the Capitol.
Amid drums banging, cars honking and slogans being shouted, the line was 10 people wide in many places.
“I stood videotaping it for 40 minutes, but the people just keep coming and coming,” said Carolyn Golojuch, an LGBT activist. She later took to the stage where she invoked the best line from the movie “Network”: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
The march was so large that it effectively surrounded both the state and city seats of government, plus a royal palace. City cops and state sheriffs stood at the ready, but it was a peaceful if sometimes raucous affair.
“People united will never be defeated,” state Rep. Della Au Bellati, a march organizer, chanted from the stage erected on the mauka side of the Capitol.
“This is a chicken-skin moment,” said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, implying she had goosebumps. She said the one silver lining of Trump’s inauguration in Washington on Friday was that he had united millions of women and their supporters — “men included” — across the country and the world.
The mother of two boys, Tokuda received uproarious applause when she said, “When a woman says no, it means no.”
Besides speeches and music, there where dozens of informational tables and tents.
They included efforts to sign people up for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compacts, an agreement among some states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote.
The Honolulu march drew veterans from protests in the 1960s and much younger people likely attending their first such demonstration.
Victor Olgyay and his wife, Kristy Lane, watched proudly as their 12-year-old daughter Maille drew pictures and wrote words on a canvas laid out on the Rotunda.
She rolled it up and said she planned to send it to the White House. Asked to allow a reporter a peek at the canvas, Maille unfurled part of one end to reveal bricks in a wall and the words “Defend Planned Parenthood.”
Some participants wore costumes: a young woman dressed as a witch, another as Wonder Woman. There was a child in Batman pajamas.
State Sen. Josh Green wore a pink Lacoste shirt — pink was the favored color of many attendees — and said he was on hand to honor his late grandmother, Phyllis Green, who worked for Planned Parenthood when they lived in Western Pennsylvania. He and his wife brought along their two young children, he said, to “transfer” to them the importance of standing for women’s rights.
Cha Smith, who is active in the movement against genetically modified foods, said Trump’s election is inspiring a movement that may halt some of his initiatives.
“We have systems in place, strategies in place that will help us survive in a parallel universe,” she said.
Deb Haugen, an artist, had a sign that read “Women are not up for grabs.” She has been protesting one issue or another since 1967, but she described herself as especially nervous about the state of the country today.
“We have to let our voices be heard,” said Haugen.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, in a red palaka print shirt and kukui nut lei, showed up to support women and the issues important to them.
“Their voices may be lost at the federal level,” he warned, adding that it would be “tragic” if the country moved backward instead of forward on social issues.
Maxine Burkett, a law professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa, told the audience: “Hawaii can be a beacon. We have a responsibility.”
Most speakers asked for others to get politically active and to vote. But also to be nice, which they said would be in sharp contrast to the man currently occupying the Oval Office.
As Brandi Morgan, a transgender comedian, said from the stage, “We choose love, we choose aloha. I want you to remember that message.”
Allyn Tabata, a Honolulu civil engineer, was so incensed by Donald Trump comments about women that came to light during the presidential campaign that she knitted two dozen pink caps.
She sent some to friends in Washington, D.C., others to Seattle, and then shared the rest with friends at Saturday’s event. The caps, with two tufts of ears, resembled cats, but everyone calls them “pussy hats.”
“There’s a hashtag, #PinkPussyhats,” Tabata explained, although she didn’t need to. The hats have become a national craze launched by an activist knitting caps for Saturday’s events.
The Honolulu event was distinguished by countless handmade shirts and signs. Here is a selection of some of them:
Obamacare saved my life. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Women will not be silent. Get your tiny hands off my uterus. I am woman, hear me roar. We shall overcomb.
No Muslim registry. No more Twitter tantrums! Not my POTUS. As of 1/20/17, the system is truly rigged. Sad!!! The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls (Michelle Obama). Bitches get stuff done (Tina Fey).
Truth trumps Trump. I stand up to bullies. America was built on stolen land and stolen labor. We made America great. Fuck your wall. Tuck Frump. Rise up titas. It takes “balls” to be a woman.
Abort Mike Pence. Sexism is a social disorder. The future is female. Feminist as fuck. This is not normal. OMG. GOP. WTF. Don’t touch my pussy or the White House kitchen garden. This pussy has claws.
Free Melania. Beam me up, goddess. Fight like a girl. Organize. Educate. Agitate. I will not go quietly back to the 1950s. Fight racism, viva Mexico. It should have been you, Bernie.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues