As the president would say, it was “huge.”
People standing shoulder to shoulder packed Civic Plaza in Downtown Albuquerque, while thousands of Santa Feans marched and held signs in a rally that surrounded the Roundhouse.
All told, thousands upon thousands of New Mexicans turned out Saturday afternoon to take part in demonstrations in support of women’s rights and against President Donald Trump, whose inauguration was Friday.
The events were held in New Mexico and around the country to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington, which drew tens of thousands, amid fears that women’s and civil rights may be threatened by the new administration.
Mariam Salas, one of the event organizers for the Albuquerque march, estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 people attended the Duke City event. Similar, or even larger, crowd estimates were made at the Santa Fe spectacle – including a police estimate of 11,000.
“I think a lot of people are feeling lost and are looking for a rallying point,” Salas said. “Albuquerque got the word out. This city came together.”
Creative signs were abundant at both the Albuquerque and Santa Fe demonstrations. All sorts of references were made to an offensive slang term for female genitalia that Trump was quoted saying in a video that was leaked during his presidential campaign.
In Santa Fe, some of the more creative signs said, “We are all Jedi now,” “Have you learned Russian yet?” and “I’ve seen better cabinets at IKEA.” One poster pictured Trump as a chupacabra, a monstrous mythical creature. That crowd, many wearing pink hats and carrying signs protesting Trump’s stance on many issues, marched from the Bataan Memorial Building, around the Santa Fe Plaza and down Old Santa Fe Trial for a rally at the Capitol. The timing was perfect, as sun broke through what had been snowy skies shortly after the march got underway at about 11 a.m.
There, they heard speeches from Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, councilwoman Signe Lindell and others.
In Albuquerque, several local environmental groups concerned about climate change joined the movement and marched to Civic Plaza from nearby Robinson Park prior to the event.
At the plaza, the crowd sang along to music and listened to speeches about women’s empowerment, and other social and environment issues. A slight hailstorm midway through the event didn’t break the enthusiastic spirit.
“I think people are just in shock that you can use that kind of rhetoric and say the things he (Trump) said, and end up in the most powerful position in the world,” said 46-year-old Renay Moya.
Jessica Ruskey, 32, said at the Albuquerque rally that it was uplifting to see the strong turnout, especially because she said it was a sad day to see the presidency be turned over to Trump from Barack Obama.
“The system won, not the people,” she said. “Hillary (Clinton) got the popular vote. More people wanted her in office but the system won and it sucks.”
Elizabeth Herrera was at the gathering with a sign aimed at raising awareness about violence against Native women.
“There’s a lot of unity here, everyone’s singing right now and a lot of people are being respectful,” the 19-year-old said as the crowd around her hit the “ba ba ba” in the song “Sweet Caroline.” “This is a place full of a lot of peace and love, and you can feel it.”
Andy Stiny in Santa Fe contributed to this report.