WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Mimi Williams attended her first political march about 50 years ago. She demonstrated against the Vietnam War and for equal rights for women in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s.
On Saturday, Williams and her daughter, Debby Shadoff, who attended her first political demonstration as a child in the 1960s, took to the streets of downtown West Palm Beach to protest President Trump’s policies.
Williams said her reasons to march in 2017 haven’t changed much since the 1960s.
“My granddaughters need to have a choice on what to do with their bodies,” said Williams, a project manager and editor at a publishing company who lives in Delray Beach. “My grandkids need to have clean water and clean air.”
About 2,000 gathered outside Trump Plaza and marched 2.5 miles down Flagler Drive. Meanwhile, Trump was expected to attend the International Red Cross Ball at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, just across the Intercoastal Waterway.
There were many young people, parents with children in strollers or on their shoulders, women in hijabs and even a woman in a wheelchair.
Protesters chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has to go” and “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” in reference to Trump’s temporary travel ban on refugees into the U.S.
Some brought handmade signs reading “Deport Trump,” “Welcome refugees” and “The dark side will not take away our freedom.”
Wanda de Jesus created a sign with a clothes hanger to remind people women used drastic methods to end pregnancies before abortion became legal across the country in 1973.
She took issue with Trump’s comment during the presidential campaign that women should be penalized for getting an abortion if the procedure is banned. He later recanted his comment.
“A lot of people forget,” said de Jesus, a retired X-ray technician from Boynton Beach. “They don’t remember women were dying.”
The march was mostly peaceful. Some Trump supporters stood on the sidelines holding pro-Trump signs, often times yelling at the marchers, who then shouted back. A woman stuck her head out of a moving car and yelled “Trump.”
Trump supporter Elijah Inchauteguiz, 18, said marchers “just don’t make much sense.” He said he disagreed with protesters’ opposition to Trump’s ban on the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries. He said that’s temporary and the U.S. government should know who is entering the country. A judge on Friday temporarily blocked the order and the Trump administration Saturday night filed papers announcing it plans to challenge the decision.
The idea of the march came initially from a local activist called Stephen Milo, who then canceled the event, citing safety concerns. The groups South Florida Activism and Women’s March Florida Palm Beach County chapter picked up the reins. A Facebook event showed that 1,700 planned to attend, but organizers said Saturday they thought more showed up.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., was among them.
“This is a respectful demonstration and it’s going on all around the country,” she said. “There are some things that the president has done the last 14 days that are making people very anxious, and they are here to show it.”