Washington, DC – Sherry Cain, a 78-year-old Kentucky native, said she’s lived a long time and has seen a lot of change in the world, “but never anything like this in our country”.
That’s why she brought her family to Washington, DC on Saturday for the third annual Women’s March.
“I am just so fearful for their future if continue on this road,” she told Al Jazeera, pointing to the government shutdown, US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and what she called the “abdication of Congress of their duties”.
“We have to do something,” she said.
Four generations of the Cain family – Sherry, her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson – joined thousands of women and their supporters who marched nationwide.
This year’s march came against the backdrop of a partial government shutdown, now in its 29th day, that started after Trump refused to back down on his demand for more than $5bn in funding for a wall on the US southern border.
The forecast of rain and snow in Washington, DC, on Saturday, combined with the National Park Service limited snow removal services due to the shutdown prompted DC organisers to change the route of the march, according to local media. Participants started at Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House, instead of the National Mall, as initially planned.
|Sherry Cain brought her daughters, granddaughter and great-grandson to the march [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]
Protesters marched past the Trump International Hotel chanting, “All for one and one for all, stop the shutdown, stop the wall.”
At one point, a woman released a Trump baby balloon into the air and the crowd started waving, cheering and yelling, “good-bye!”
Some held signs that called for Trump to be impeached, others emphasised the need to believe survivors of sexual assault and rape, and many demanded an end to the shutdown.
Raquel Chee held a sign that read, “See me. I am still here.”
“We are here to tell everybody …that we’re not going anywhere,” said Chee, a member of the Window Rock Navajo Nation in Arizona.
She told Al Jazeera she brought her four children with her to the march to give a voice to her brother, uncles and and murdered or missing indigenous people across North America.
“We are here to speak out for them, remember them and bring light on the issue that our relatives go missing and murdered all the time,” she said.
|Raquel Chee said she’s march for all the indigenous people who have been murdered or gone missing [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]
The Women’s March movement began after the 2016 election of Trump. The day after his inauguration in January 2017, millions worldwide marched for women’s rights.
According to organisers, this year’s march focused on the success of the 2018 midterm elections, which saw a record number of women run and get elected to office. The first Muslim women, Native American women, and youngest woman were recently sworn into Congress.
The movement also hopes to turn its attention to the presidential race in 2020.
|Thousands marched past the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, chanting ‘stop the shutdown, stop the wall’ [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]
In major cities, however, participants held separate marches due to controversy within the Women’s March movement.
In November, Teresa Shook, one of the Women’s March co-founders, accused other organisers of steering “the Movement away from its true course”, referring to allegations of anti-Semitic ties directed at Linda Sarsour, who criticises the US’s policy towards Israel, and Tamika Mallory, who maintains an association with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
In a Facebook post, Shook called on Sarsour, Mallory, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez to step down and “to let others lead who can restore the faith in the Movement and its original intent”.
The four organisers denied the allegations, but Sarsour said in a statement that the movement “should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism”.
Since then several local marches and activists have sought to distance themselves from the national movement.
Despite the controversy, thousands of women showed up to marches on Saturday.
|This year’s march came after a year of historic gains for women in politics in the US [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]
Although the number is far less than the first march in 2017, 19-year-old Howard University student Ciana Moore said it’s still important to continue standing up for everyone has been affected by Trump’s presidency.
“It’s amazing to see all different types of women, all ages, people from all over coming together,” she told Al Jazeera as the Washington, DC march was just getting under way.
“It’s really empowering to be here for each other.”