BANGOR, Maine — Thousands of Mainers were among the 500,000 people who gathered at the nation’s capital Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, according to one of the main organizers of the state’s delegation.
The demonstration, a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, was designed to show support for immigrants, the LGBTQ community, reproductive rights, and values that organizers believe have been threatened by Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
Activists spearheaded scores of marches across the United States and sympathy rallies around the world Saturday. Organizers said they drew nearly 5 million protesters in all, far surpassing crowd expectations.
Trump faces entrenched opposition from wide segments of the public, in contrast with the honeymoon period new presidents typically experience when first taking office. In a Twitter post early Sunday, Trump appeared to downplay the significance of the protests when compared with his victory in the election.
“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!” he tweeted. “Why didn’t these people vote?”
An estimated 4,000 women and men from the Pine Tree State made the trip to Washington, Susan Harrison, organizer of the Maine delegation, said Saturday morning.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” the event’s organizers said in their mission statement.
Among those participating were Patty and David Bergstrom of Ellsworth, who boarded a bus at 5 p.m. Friday and arrived in Washington at 8 a.m. Saturday — just in time for the march.
“It seems important to be here,” Patty Bergstrom said Saturday morning. “I’m not happy with the president. I want to have a voice and let our government know we aren’t going to be quiet about this.”
Organizers of the Maine delegation asked those who turned up to wear hunter orange so they would stand out in the crowd.
The Bergstroms’ sign was designed by Jennifer Judd-McGee, an artist from Northeast Harbor. Many others from Maine also carried signs made by Judd-McGee.
Mari Abercrombie, director of Windover Art Center in Newburgh and an active member of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, brought a sign she made featuring a collage of photos of women who could not join her in Washington for the women’s march.
“It’s so neat because everybody that I mentioned it to, like, ‘Can I put your picture on my poster?’ said, ‘Oh, my gosh, yes!’” she said. She said she was staying in Maryland with her mother, who works in Washington.
Katie Urey of Rockport also made the trek to the capital.
“My hope is that the incoming government will see this massive group of women uniting and see it as a sign that we are strong and will march forward,” she said. “Our arms are locked together, and we are stronger together.”
Urey then pointed to her 9-year-old daughter, Piper.
“I march for her, too,” she said.
Amelia Bertaska, 17, and Kanha Stockford, 16, students at Waynflete School in Portland, said they traveled to the march because many of their teachers have taken part in earlier rallies like the women’s march, and they wanted to experience it, too.
Bertaska said she wanted to “spread positivity and equality and hope for our generation.”
Jill Bryant and Sandy Couch Kelly, both of Falmouth, flew down to march together. Bryant’s husband and two girls marched in Portland.
“I think this is the beginning,” Kelly said. “Women’s futures are important to us. But I think this is about equality and that includes everyone.”
Bryant and Kelly said the march marked the first time they had ever done anything like this. But they also said they would be very active going forward. Both are volunteers and activists in their community.
Bryant also is active in the Girl Scouts and wore a Girl Scouts pin under the “ear” of her hat. The Girls Scouts faced an angry backlash for marching in Friday’s inaugural parade.
Jeanette Hagen of Portland and her daughter, Rachel Hirsh of Boston, marched together. Hagen brought extra orange hats for friends marching with them.
The two were at the inauguration ceremony Friday, and they said it felt like a “lockdown.” The atmosphere at Saturday’s march felt more hopeful, they said, adding that despite the crowds, people were polite and considerate.
The Maine group raised money to pay for about 125 bus tickets for those unable to afford them, according to Harrison.
Photojournalist Alicia Anstead, and Reuters writers Scott Malone and Ginger Gibson contributed to this report.