D.C.’s top homeland security official says organizers have decided the crowd is too big to conduct a formal march to the White House.
“They are going to tell the crowd they can go to the Ellipse if they want, but they are not doing the normal parade route, there is too many people,” said Christopher Geldart, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Kevin Donahue says the decision was not made by the mayor’s office. It was a decision by organizers.
D.C. police said some people had already started marching before the decision was made.
And organizer Tamika D. Mallory went to the microphone after that call was made and asked the crowd, “Are you ready to march?”
At a quarter to 2 p.m., crowds thickened on the Mall near Fourth Street SW but were stuck, with no clear source of the reason for the deadlock. Frustrated attendees began chanting “Let’s march now!” Many cleared out, streaming toward Madison Drive SW rather than following others toward Jefferson Drive SW.
At the corner of Seventh and Constitution, some participants were confused about where to march — and if to march.
Anna Duncan, an Arlington preschool teacher, says she was confused by the route mapped on the Women’s March website.
“They were stopping people at an intersection like, ‘don’t go further,'” she said. “It was not a very well-done site.”
Two other women, Terry Berosseau of Seattle and Ruth Martin of Philadelphia, said they were planning to march regardless of whether or not the official plans had been changed.
Bernadette Hopen, 22, said at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW that she frankly doesn’t really care if she’s on the “right” route.
“They gave out the maps and our coordinator from New Jersey made sure we were prepared, but they just weren’t expecting 300,000 more women,” she said. “They’re doing the best they can. I was worried about feeling unsafe but I feel so safe. People are saying thank you to the police. ”
Her mother, Jody Hopen, 54, marched alongside her daughter and a friend from her Hillary campaigning days.
“I don’t really care. Whether we’re in the official march or not,” her friend Lisa Mandelblatt, 52, said.
The Westfield, N.J., trio said they planned to follow the crowd and enjoy the day.
“It’s such a positive group, the popular vote group, and people have been so inclusive and communicative with each other,” Jody said.
Protesters in Chicago had the same issue; the march there was turned into a standing rally because of an unexpectedly large crowd.