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UPDATE: Organizers estimated nearly 100,000 people took more than two hours to wind through the 44-block route.


TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - An estimated 100,000 people jammed downtown Portland Saturday afternoon for the Portland Women's March.Women, men and families who gathered Saturday afternoon for the Portland Women's March said they were there to protect their future, not just protest the election of Donald J. Trump as president.

"Democracy is not a spectator sport," said Gail Pincus of Portland. "I think we really are standing for protecting the rights of all people. We're concerned about the most vulnerable people in our society, gays, minorities, immigrants, everybody who's been threatened by the incoming administration. And then we're concerned about the great divide in our country. We need to figure out what to do in our future."



Pincus was among an estimated 70,000 people who gathered on a rainy afternoon in Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the march that was part of a global movement. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in 300 cities across the nation, and 60 marches in 40 countries. An estimated 500,000 showed up for Washington, D.C.'s march. (Portland Fire Bureau officials estimated the Portland crowd at about 70,000. Organizers said there were at least 100,000 people at the event.)

Traffic was backed up on Interstate 5 northbound getting into the city an hour before the rally began. Portland police blocked traffic on Southwest Naito Parkway near Waterfront Park and the Morrison Bridge, ground zero for the rally.

{img:139969}Full-to-overflowing TriMet MAX trains and buses rolled into the city bringing hundreds of people who planned to march in support of issues they feared could be swept away by the new Trump administration.

The rally included an hour of speeches and then a nearly 2-mile march through downtown. Portland police said so many people attended the event that the front of the march wound through the 44-block route and returned to Waterfront Park before the end of the march had moved. TriMet's downtown service was disrupted several times because of the size of the crowd.

PDX Trans Pride, Planned Parenthood and Oregon National Organization for Women, the rally's sponsors, estimated that more than 30,000 people would show up for the event. The March could mirror a 2008 political rally that attracted more than 70,000 people for presidential candidate Barack Obama. A similar group of thousands also gathered in Waterfront Park in 2004 to hear presidential candidate John Kerry.

Organizers said the rally and march were not an "Anti-Trump" event, but a reaction to the election of Donald Trump, and nearly all the forces at work to upset politics in the 2016 presidential race.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Rain didn't dampen spirits of the thousands who jammed Waterfront Park Saturday for the Portland Women's March.

Care act saves young life

The rain-soaked event took on a festive atmosphere. So many people attended that it was impossible for everyone to see or hear speakers on the stage south of the Morrison Bridge. At 1:15 p.m., the official start time of the march, thousands were still crammed motionless in Waterfront Park.

On Southwest Fourth Avenue, the return street of the route, a steady stream of people with pink hats, colorful signs, drums and chants walked passed for two hours. Signs included a drawing of a uterus flipping the bird, "this is a bad sign," "fight truth decay," and "golden showers bring impeachment flowers."

Many people had difficulty getting to the march due to the high volume of people using public transportation. Michelle North of Portland said she waited at a Barbur Boulevard bus stop but three TriMet buses passed — too full to pick up passengers. A man was able to stop a car in the street with a group headed to the march. Four of them hitched a ride to the rally.

North said she wanted to march because "basically everyone's human rights" are at stake.

Lydia Gierch and her mother, Mary Gierch, both of Beaverton, said they were marching to express their displeasure with the new president. "It was kind of heartbreaking that we would elect this man," said Lydia Gierch, a high school junior and member of a Planned Parenthood teen council.

{img:139972}Rachel Kohler said she came to the rally with three busloads of people from Corvallis Unitarian Universalist Church. "We wanted to come to the big march," Kohler said, adding that she didn't expect the rain would dampen turnout. "Oregonians do not care about rain.

Kohler said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, saved her life. At age 25 she was in graduate school with debilitating stomach pains but without the coverage to see a specialist doctors didn't know what was wrong with her. She lost 80 pounds in three months, she said. Then when Obamacare kicked in in 2014, she was able to be covered under her father's insurance and got appropriate treatment for a rare digestive disorder called gastroparesis. Kohler said she worries that protections for her prescriptions and pre-existing conditions will go away.

{img:139974}Teresa Robinson of the Cully neighborhood of Portland said the march was too important to miss, despite the downpour. Robinson pushed her 20-month-old daughter in a stroller covered in a plastic hood.

"We taped up our sons and wrapped up our babies and came out," Robinson said. She worried for the future for her daughter. "There's a sexual predator right now in the White House. It's disgusting."

Hazel Gaffney of Southeast Portland was marching with her family and she felt much more of a sense of solidarity and unity during this march than when she marched against the Vietnam War in Oakland, Calif., in the 1970s.

"We just have to keep doing what we can do to lead with peace and hope and keep fighting," Gaffney said. Asked if this included unity those who agree with President Donald Trump's policies, Gaffney hesitated. "I don't know if we're going to unify the other side you're talking about. They seem closed off."

Robin and her partner Cory, who declined to give their surnames, gave away hot drinks and snacks — but they didn't last long. They brought three gallons of hot water in a small wagon along with tea and instant coffee and it was gone in about 20 minutes, they said. "I want the people who come after us to live in a better world," Robin said as to why she was marching. Asked if she felt Trump supporters didn't, she added: "I think they have a different opinion of what might be better."

Alex Benson, a young bearded man, shouted at marchers along Southwest Fourth Avenue in an attempt to lead them in a chant of "women's rights are human rights." Why was Benson marching with such enthusiasm? "I have a sister and a mother and everyone needs to be louder about this," he said, before going back to leading marchers in a chant.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Portland police said so many people attended Saturday's event that the front of the march wound through the 44-block route and returned to Waterfront Park before the end of the march had moved.

'My biggest hope'

Willamette University student Grace Gautereaux, 18, said she hoped "the rest of America gets the message."

"I think that Donald Trump did stand for a lot of ideals that some Americans wanted," Gautereaux said. "He showed the country that people are frustrated and something needs to change so and people flocked to him. I think that in the end, they're going to be discontent, but we just have to treat them with love and show them that we're not going to take violence, we're not going to take oppression."

Jennifer Cerrone, 18, also a Willamette University student, said she was impressed by the "amount of unity that I'm seeing right now."

"I think it's really important for everyone to be able to give their message of love and to give a message that we're not going to stand back and stand idly by while an oppressive government is in power," Cerrone said. "I think it's important for everyone to be here today."

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - People who marched in Saturday's Portland Women's March left behind signs in Waterfront Park. An estimated 100,000 people marched through downtown streets.Jimena Alvarado, a Costa Rican who teaches women's studies at Portland Community College, went to the march with a sign that read, "Queer Latina Immigrant."

"I had to leave my country because of homophobia," Alvarado said. "I find Portland to be a safer refuge, but I wasn't expecting the country to step back so hard as soon as I got here. At this point, my biggest hope is to not lose what we've gained, that would be a huge win to me."

Liz Goulard of Lake Oswego, recounted past fights for civil rights and said she was concerned about the fates of immigrants and minorities under the Trump administration. "I don't think we can expect (Trump) to normalize," she said. "I want Congress to pay attention. We don't know what we're going to do, but it's a time of re-engaging as an American and figure out how to make a difference."

Reporters Lyndsey Hewitt, Shasta Kearns Moore, Joseph Gallivan and Kevin Harden contributed to this story.

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