Everyone is aware of the marches that took place all across the country as a reaction to President Trump's inauguration. For better or worse, agree or disagree, it happened and it will likely become a historically documented event. I did not go to march. Instead I went to document! All opinion aside, here is what I encountered...
100,000 people turned out at the Portland women's march on January 21st 2017. I had planned on avoiding all crowds and photographing from a distance. That, however, was a most unlikely scenario. I live in SE Portland, about 15 minute drive from downtown. I packed up my backpack with veggies and snacks, water, camera, etc. I found the most waterproof clothing I could and I layered up! After all it was pouring rain and in the 40's. I planned to park on the east side of the river and walk across the bridge, likely all by myself, and probably take most of my pictures from the bridge, where again, I would be in solitude! How naïve I was!
I left the house about an hour before the march was set to begin. From the moment I turned out of my little neighborhood and onto the main road to head downtown, I caught a glimpse of the magnitude of people I was about to encounter. Bus stops were jam packed with people holding signs and wearing pink hats. I saw people walking, even as far away as my house, with their signs in hand, heading downtown. The more crowded bus stops I passed the more I started to understand that I wasn't going to be alone on that bridge. I'd be lucky to find a place to park anywhere near the bridge! But I did! So, I strapped on all my gear and started walking. I walked past a coffee shop that was so jam packed with people it was probably breaking fire code. I kept walking. When I got to the bridge and was blown away. It was an endless parade of people. It was kind of amazing to see!
So much for my plan to avoid the crowd! As many people as there were before me, there were far more following! And this was just one bridge! It was a spectacular sight to be standing on one crowded bridge and looking over to the next bridge to find it was also jam packed with protestors parading endlessly. And this parade of people lasted for hours!
When I finally got to the end of the bridge, I saw the crowd. It was no where near what it would grow to be, and I didn't manage to stay long enough to see the 100,000, but it was still a massive crowd of people. More than I had ever seen in one place before or, will likely, ever see again.
As I stood, observing and taking photos, I heard a couple of older ladies comment, "This is like 60's stuff." They had smiles and their faces expressed their excitement about the event. I saw a lot of other photographers staying back out of the crowd as best as possible. Every so often I would hear a loud cluster of unrecognizable sounds and as it rolled closer and closer I realized it was a cheering crowd. A cheer that started from very far away. A place I was not willing to venture. It was pouring rain at this point and we were all starting to get soggy. The train of protestors coming across the bridge was still going strong and the crowd was thickening! People weren't just coming from the bridges, they were filtering in from all directions all headed toward the park where they would wait to march.
I saw people with signs promoting love and people with signs spewing hate. I saw signs of people demanding respect for all while disrespecting the new president. There were lot of conflicting messages. My goal was to capture the conflicting messages in one frame, but the crowd and signs were constantly moving and changing angles. Fortunately, I never saw any violence or disorder.
The rain didn't let up and it got cold. I got out of there before the march began. I walked back across the bridge and saw that there was still a steady flow of people headed to the rally. It seems everyone in Portland was at the march. 100,000 people! Still blows my mind!
I hope you enjoyed the photos and my account of the event. Please feel free to comment any photos you have of the massive crowd.