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Thousands gather in downtown LA for womens march
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco with signs decrying President Donald Trump and chants in English and Spanish as a cross-section of the cities diverse religious, ethnic and LGBT groups marched in solidarity Saturday with the Women’s March on Washington.

San Francisco City Hall lit up with pink lights, which Mayor Ed Lee tweeted was “to show our solidarity in protecting the rights of all women.”

Crowd estimates in Los Angeles varied but city Emergency Management Department officials said that “well over 100,000” people packed several closed blocks in a part of the city filled with government and court buildings. Several trains were added to the city’s jammed metro line in order to accommodate the large crowds.

“It’s definitely the biggest we’ve seen so far since the election,” said Kate Hutton, a public information officer for the department.

The massive gathering was one of many taking place around California, a state that voted overwhelmingly against Trump’s bid for the presidency and has become a center of resistance to the new president and his policies. Tens of thousands of people also marched at rallies in Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego and elsewhere.

Long a bastion for activism by Latino, LGBT and other minority groups, the protests in Los Angeles and San Francisco on Saturday drew men and women holding rainbow gay pride flags, Muslim women in headscarves and families with children. The Los Angeles rally, which took place Saturday morning, also featured a roster of Hollywood celebrities from Jane Fonda to Natalie Portman.

“We’re all in this together,” said Bill Cooper, 59, a real estate agent in Los Angeles who was marching in front of City Hall with a bright yellow umbrella decorated with slogans championing love over hate. “No more minorities. Women, gay, Muslims, we’re all going to join together and be one big majority.”

San Francisco’s march took place later in the day and attracted tens of thousands of people, according to early estimates. Many marched with umbrellas in a steady rainfall for the rally that started at the steps of City Hall and wound through the city’s downtown shopping area and financial district. Freeways and BART lines across the Bay Area were jammed as people tried to join the rally.

On Friday, demonstrators in San Francisco formed a human chain across the Golden Gate Bridge shortly after Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president.

Across the globe, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against Trump’s stance on issues like abortion, health care and immigration. Turnout was so big in Washington that the original march route alongside the National Mall was impassable.

Speaking at the rally in Washington, California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said women’s issues are the same as those that impact all Americans.

“We all know the truth,” Harris said. “If you are a woman trying to raise a family, you know a good paying job is a women’s issue.”

Many of those protesting in Los Angeles said they felt threatened not only as women but also religious and ethnic minorities. Andy Solano, 33, who works in artist relations at a record label, carried a sign that read, “Bad hombres support nasty women,” a play on two phrases Trump uttered during the election.

“I’m of Latino heritage. My father is an immigrant,” said Solano, who also wore a U.S. flag baseball cap. “I identify with immigrants and what their struggle is right now and I’m raising my voice to show that I support them.”

Many protesters wore the bright pink knit “pussyhats” to mock Trump and that have become a symbol of the march. Others came with signs mocking the size of Trump’s hands and his hair. Several alluded to Hollywood films and stars in their signs, with one woman carrying a sign that said, “Carrie Fisher sent me,” a reference to the late Star Wars actress who was also known as a staunch feminist.


Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco contributed to this report.