The ferry was abnormally crowded for a Saturday morning today. Pink cat hats and protest signs were in evidence. This was despite it being the “late” boat that was sure to miss the start of the rally at Judkins Park. I had ridden my bike on the boat so as to compress time on the Seattle end and help make up for my tardiness.
It turns out not to have mattered. Throngs were walking along the sidewalks of Jackson Street on the way to the park. The sidewalks grew ever more crowded as each side street contributed its share of pedestrians. Eventually the sidewalks spilled over and the pedestrians took half the street. At that point, I parked my bike and started walking. This was a good half-mile from the park.
Soon the pedestrian traffic grew to the point where it took the whole street. This wasn’t the protest march, mind you, it was merely the pedestrian traffic heading to the pre-march rally. Three blocks from the park, everything stopped. The park was full and had the crowd had spilled out into the neighborhood street grid. I never got closer to the park for the opening rally.
Eventually, very slowly, the crowd started moving in fits and starts. There were big pauses as side-streets disgorged their share of marchers onto the main route. Cheers were passed in waves that bounced back and forth along the route. Turnout had exceeded all expectations (at least 130,000) and head of the march reached the end before the tail had started.
I spent nearly two hours waiting for the end to reach Seattle Center. There had apparently been speakers scheduled at Seattle Center but they were cancelled because the crowd was too big for the venue. It’s the largest political protest march in Seattle history, and Seattle is not alone in having vastly higher than expected turnouts.
The question is, will the energy and outrage hold. If it does, there is real hope.