More than 10,000 people attended an equal-rights gathering at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami Saturday, coinciding with the Women’s March on Washington and hundreds of others across the nation and world.
Many, if not most, of the attendees of the Women’s Rally of South Florida said they were protesting the inauguration of President Trump, whose history of sexist and discriminatory comments came to light during his campaign.
Pat Pusateri and her partner of 20 years, Chris Pickens, drove nearly 300 miles from Pinellas County to the Miami rally. Pusateri, who is her late 60s and shares 11 grandchildren with Pickens, held a sign reading, “For My Grandchildren.”
“I am worried about what’s going to happen to spousal benefits, voting rights and global warming,” she said.
Those concerns were echoed in hundreds of colorful, homemade signs throughout the park depicting global warming fears, decrying sexism and defending women’s rights.
The rally featured speeches from representatives of Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter as well as from Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and Rabbi Noah Kitty. The speakers offered the crowd words of encouragement and urged them to get involved in the community.
“We are the ones with the power. We have to stop giving our power away and start now,” said Tracy Wilson Mourning, whose organization was one of the event’s sponsors.
Eager to hear those messages, a few thousand were already lined up in outside the park an hour before the rally despite the South Florida heat. Pusateri and Pickens bypassed other marches in Florida hoping to meet up with a larger crowd in Miami, but were disappointed to find the park has a capacity of only 10,000.
After reaching that limit only an hour into the event, Miami-Dade fire marshals closed off the entrance, leading the remaining people to march west on Northeast Second Street, blocking traffic.
Some drivers honked in support, took pictures and chanted along with the protestors while a few were annoyed by the delays.
Subu Patel and her husband, visiting South Florida for the first time from Chicago, said they were thwarted by the crowd on their way to Bayside Marketplace.
“This is ridiculous, we are trying to get on a tour boat, and we still haven’t even bought tickets,” said Patel.
But those who attended the rally didn’t have a problem waiting. Sandra Penhi waited in line for over an hour with her husband and two young children.
Penhi said she took this opportunity to teach her 5-year-old daughter the significance of women’s rights.
“I told her that women’s rights are important, and they should be preserved,” she said. “We talked about the fact that it is important to show your voice and make sure that we are heard.”
Several other adults were accompanied by children, and many bought their entire families to event. The crowd included people from every class, age, racial and ethnic group all uniting for the cause.
Also in attendance was Pakistani women’s rights activist and clinical psychologist Shahnaz Bukhari who lives in Miami but also has a domestic violence shelter in Pakistan.
“To be quiet is to be criminal when something is being done wrong,” she said. “The head of the state should be someone who is very respectable. He should respect all the religions, different sexes, different genders. It is very unethical of him.”
Many protestors appeared to share that sentiment, chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”
Those denied entrance to the park held smaller protests on returning from their march down Northeast Second Street. Soon after, several hundred marched to Southeast Second Street and on to Biscayne Boulevard. Miami Police cleared the area right before 7 p.m.