I was not planning on attending the LA Women’s March on 21 January 2017 until one of my friends asked me to go with her. She has an anxiety about large crowds, and I wanted to help her attend. I never quite managed to find my friend in the chaos, but I must thank her: it was an extraordinary and uplifting experience, and it showed me how much love and compassion matter. (My friend was fine; she was with people she trusted, and they remained with her.)
I took some photographs. Not necessarily of the signs, nor of the crowd, but of the individuals who chose to march. I wanted to capture the beautiful and fierce and bold people who chose to gather.
I drove to the Del Mar Metro station in Pasadena, where I was supposed to meet my friend. The first indication that this would be an extraordinary event was the very long line of cars attempting to pull into the Del Mar Metro station parking lot. I avoided that line, parked elsewhere, and walked to the station. I got there at 8am. The station was full of people. There were lines for the ticket machines on both platforms; I skipped these — my TAP card had enough money for the ride there and back.
The platform for Union Station was crowded. I could not find my friend. Each train that passed was packed, brimming with pink-hatted bodies. I managed to board one; I had to take my backpack off and squeeze between a man’s armpit and a seatful of young children. The passengers on the train talked with astonishment about the sheer number of people traveling downtown.
One of the young children in the seat next to me began having a panic attack; she was not used to being surrounded by so many people, I think. A kindly teacher who boarded the train (somehow) at the South Pasadena station helped calm her down.
I got off at Union Station, and walked to Pershing Square. I had an angry text conversation with the director of the show I’m producing; he wanted to cancel that day’s morning rehearsal at the last minute so that he could attend the March. I convinced him not to and I felt bad about it.
I walked down Main and then Broadway, hoping to cut across to the Library branch, where I was planning to, for the second time, meet up with my friend. But as I started walking down 5th Street, the crowd grew denser and denser, and at around Hill Street it became impossible to walk forward. People packed in behind me, and on the sidewalk of 5th, just before the corner of Hill, I stopped. The marchers were packed shoulder-to-shoulder, front-to-back. We stayed that way for half an hour. Chants rolled back and forth through the crowd in waves.
The march was due to start at 10:00am, and we were planning on march north on Hill. But Hill was packed with people, and there was no room to march. At 10:30am the people, frustrated, began moving towards City Hall on whatever street would take them there. We marched up Hill and Spring and Olive and Broadway and Main and Grand, chanting and waving signs. It was impromptu route planning at its most democratic. I took photographs.
I take an improv class that starts at 10:30am on Saturdays. I knew I was going to be late for that class. At around 11:30am I peeled away from the main body of the march, and started towards the 7th St/Metro Center station. When I got there, there were yet more people exiting the station, eager to join the march. I took the Red Line to Vermont/Sunset, and walked to class. At the end of it, a friend gave me a ride to Pasadena, where I picked up my car and drove home.