Hundreds of thousands gather downtown for Women's March Los Angeles

- A massive crowd blocked the area around Pershing Square Saturday in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington and similar events being held in cities nationwide to protest the presidency of Donald Trump.

Organizers estimated that as many as 750,000 people were at the march, drastically eclipsing the expectations of 150,000 people, but the Los Angeles Police Department declined to provide crowd estimates.

"I feel there is a great group of solidarity around the world," said Vanessa Coaloa from West LA.  

The mission statement for the march read, in part, "We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country." Organizers stressed that the event is non-partisan and not a protest, but a "celebration of human rights." 

"I hope that President Trump changes his message and future decisions and choices he's about to make as president," said Coaloa.

Groups backing a wide variety of priorities were on hand, advocating for issues ranging from women's rights to environmental protections, access to healthcare and immigrant and LGBTQ rights.

"America is about rights and privileges for everybody and I think that everyone here is not happy with the message of the new president," said Victoria of West LA who did not want to give her last name.

About five dozen celebrities, including Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laverne Cox signed up to attend the local event. Public officials were also out in force, with many scheduled to speak before and after the approximately one-mile march from Pershing Square to City Hall.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were all expected to offer words of encouragement to the crowd and underline the fact that this is far from a women-only event.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn expressed her support.

"I am marching Saturday because I want to show my support for the millions of Americans who continue to believe that we should be a nation that respects and supports everyone whether they are a woman, a man, an immigrant, gay, straight, trans, poor or Muslim," Hahn said. "We need to lead by example and fight to make Los Angeles County a model for the nation."

Metro officials added service and beefed up security to accommodate the anticipated crowd, though Westside and San Fernando Valley station platforms were jam-packed with riders as full trains stopped, unable to take on more people.

At the rally downtown, crowds were so dense that hundreds of people turned back on Olive Street, unable to reach Pershing Square. A few intrepid souls even scaled a fence at the end of an alley to escape the gridlock. Organizers arecommitted to maintaining the peace and an LAPD spokeswoman said no arrests had been made as of late morning.

During the protest Saturday, a plane circled over the downtown area towing a banner that read, "Congratulations President Trump."


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