Thousands fill Bayfront Park, take part in women’s march

MIAMI (WSVN) - Groups of several hundred people pounded the pavement in Downtown Miami as they sent a message to the Donald Trump administration by taking part in one of tens of thousands of women’s marches unfolding across the globe, Saturday.

The Bayfront Park Amphitheater, which holds up to 10,000 people, was filled to capacity. By 2 p.m., overflow crowds stood outside the venue and prepared to take to the streets in what became an impromptu march that lasted for hours.

“There’s a calling in the world to stand up and to fight. It’s a call to activism,” said protester Isabel Gallego. “I’m here today because I want to be a part of history, and it matters.”

Sentiment against the newly sworn-in president ran high among marchers. “The inauguration triggered a lot of feelings that people had on election night,” said participant Anthony Summers.

However, the rally’s organizer clarified this is not the focus of the event. “This is so not an anti-Donald Trump rally,” said Laura Sawyer-Broder. “It’s promoting activism. It’s promoting human rights. It’s promoting the fact that every single person counts, and we don’t even need to name any names.”

City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said the event was intended to be inclusive of many communities. “Women’s rights LGBT rights, immigrant rights, health care,” he said.

The main event at the amphitheater was organized in unison with the Women’s March in the nation’s capital, which drew about 500,000 people.  The event started as a Facebook group that kept growing in size.

“A lot of women are feeling frustrated, angry and scared, but we have the ability to come together, stand strong and make sure we don’t settle for the status quo,” said Debbie Korge, executive director of The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade.

“Women still do not have the right for equal pay. Women still don’t have the equal right for advancement,” said protester Henny Santo.

Just after 3 p.m., the crowd, mostly women, chanted “My body, my choice,” “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Donald Trump has got to go,” as they began walking northbound on Biscayne Boulevard toward the American Airlines Arena. Around 15 minutes later, they began marching on the eastbound entrance ramp to Interstate 395.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers blocked I-395 as protesters continued to march along the roadway.

Protesters broke off into several groups. Just after 3:45, a second group of demonstrators exited I-395 at Northeast Second Avenue.

At around 4:30 p.m., demonstrators crossed the Brickell Avenue Bridge. About a half hour later a group of protesters was seen heading north on the Southwest Second Avenue Bridge.

However, at around 5:20 p.m., protesters who got on the Northwest Eighth Street entrance ramp to head to Interstate 95 discovered Florida Highway Patrol troopers blocking their path. 7Skyforce HD hovered above the demonstrators as most of them turned around and walked back.

Officials said they prevented the marchers from entering the highway in order to ensure their safety.

Participants told 7News that they just wanted to be heard, and they also wanted others to know they’re not alone. “Everyone from all ages, races, genders came out today, and I think it was beautiful,” said protester Ashley Riske.

At around 6 p.m., a thinning crowd of demonstrators converged on Biscayne Boulevard, along Fourth and Fifth streets. Many participants returned to Bayfront Park.

By 7 p.m., Miami Police said that all roads in Downtown Miami and Brickell that had been shut down for the march were reopened.

Saturday’s march takes place one day after anti-Trump protesters filled the streets of Downtown Miami and briefly shut down I-95.

Sawyer-Broder said the march serves as a way to raise awareness across several generations. “We’re just looking forward. I think a lot of people got a real wake-up call,” said Sawyer-Broder. “I think people realize now that activism, specifically my generation, we have to do something.”

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