As Anna Friar drove around Houston last Friday, chauffeuring her kids to school and soccer practice and running errands, her radio was silent. She didn’t log on to Facebook or Twitter; she didn’t check the many news apps on her phone as she often “compulsively” does. There was a total blackout, as she put it.
“I couldn’t participate in normalizing this presidency,” Friar said. “I turned everything off and pretended it was a normal day. Then I woke up this morning, got dressed and marched.”
Friar was one of more than 22,000 Houstonians who took to the streets Saturday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, policies and cabinet, in a measure of solidarity with other Women’s Marches held around the world; the U.S.-based marches are estimated to be the among the largest protests in American history. The Houston Women's March was organized only 11 days before the event and had around 5,000 responses on Facebook.
Demonstrators, in Houston and around the world, protested against possible legislation regarding contraceptive rights, gay and transgender rights and health care. But, as some protesters wanted to make clear, it wasn’t just about being against something.
“We need to join, not just against Donald Trump and his administration,” said Laura, a marcher who declined to give her last name, “but join with each other and draw a clear path to actually getting things done in Washington.”
City councilwoman Ellen Cohen, state representative Gene Wu, U.S. Representative Al Green and Mayor Sylvester Turner were among the speakers at the rally who encouraged the crowd, described by some as being the largest to ever demonstrate in front of City Hall, to attend public meetings and make their voice heard.
Marchers wielding signs reading, “Yes We Can,” “Freedom and Justice For All,” and “Love Wins,” followed Memorial Drive from the Sabine Street bridge onto the City Hall lawn.
The protest was no small effort for the Houston Police Department, which coordinated with the Houston Fire Department and had paramedics on the ground, said HPD Lieutenant Randy Upton. While Upton declined to give an exact number, he confirmed there was a considerable amount of officers dispersed along the march route.
“As always, we take these large crowds seriously,” Upton said. “This is a model protest. For a crowd this large, I couldn’t be more proud to live in this city.”
“This is Houston,” Upton added. “We’re Houston proud and we’re proud of these folks.”