The Peoples Climate March, the culmination of a string of Earth Week protests that began with last Saturday's March for Science, coincides with Trump's 100th day in office, the end of the traditional "honeymoon" period for a new president.
As temperatures rose above 90 degrees Fahrenheit under hazy skies in the nation's capital, tens of thousands of people marched from the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and passed the White House en route to the Washington Monument for a rally.
Many of the protesters carried signs with slogans such as "The seas are rising and so are we" and "Don't be a fossil fool." As the procession passed the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, marchers booed and chanted "shame."
“Enjoy the day, enjoy the weather,” Trump, speaking to reporters ahead of a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania commemorating his 100th day in office said when asked what he would tell those rallying on climate change.
While a good-natured mood prevailed and there were no signs of violence, many demonstrators said they were angered by the prospect of Trump carrying through on his vow to roll back protections put in place by his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama.
"We're going to rise up and let them know that we're sick and tired of seeing our children die of asthma," said Rev. Leo Woodberry of Florence, South Carolina, who spoke during a press conference before the march. "We're sick and tired of seeing people with cancer because of coal ash ponds. We're sick and tired of seeing sea-level rise."
Trump's administration is considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which more than 190 countries including the United States signed in hopes of curbing global warming. Trump has also proposed deep cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and the elimination of many environmental regulations.
In his campaign, Trump called climate change a hoax. Last month he kept a promise to the coal industry by undoing climate-change rules put in place by Obama.
Tom McGettrick, 57, an electrical engineer who drove up from the Florida Keys to attend the march, said his main concern is the weakening of the EPA.
"Forty years of environmental protection has done wonders for the environment, especially in the Midwest," said McGettrick, who spent most of his life in Michigan.
"When I was a teenager and went to Lake Erie, it was one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country," he said. "Now when you go to Lake Erie it's really beautiful."
The Washington event, which coincided with Trump's 100-day milestone, followed an exclusive interview with Reuters in which the president reflected wistfully on his life as a billionaire real estate developer that he left behind after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
"This is more work than in my previous life," Trump told Reuters. "I thought it would be easier."
Saturday's march was part of an effort to build support for candidates with strong environmental records in the run-up to next year's midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race, organizers said.
"We're using this as a tactic to advance the strategy of building enough power to win on climate over the course of the long haul," said Paul Getsos, national coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. Sponsors of Saturday's events include labor unions, the Sierra Club and civil rights groups.
As a side theme, marchers will protest Trump's crackdown on illegal immigrants and other issues he has championed.
Since Trump's inauguration, there have been national protests focused on issues ranging from abortion rights to immigration and science policy.
Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the march would have little impact on the administration.
"The real decisions are made in this country in elections, and we have now a president and a House and a Senate that are determined to pursue a pro-energy agenda," he said by telephone.
Environmental activists believe public opinion is on their side. A Gallup poll this month showed 59 percent of Americans agreed environmental protection should take priority over increased U.S. energy production.
Dozens of "sister" marches are planned for other North America locales, from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, to Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Overseas, about three dozen events range from a protest in Vienna to a tree-planting event in Zambia.
|Demonstrators walk on the Pacific Coast highway during People's Climate March protest for the environment in the Wilmington neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen|
Thousands gather in D.C. heat for People's Climate March
Thousands of people marched in Washington D.C. on Saturday afternoon in support of political action to combat climate change.
The People's Climate Movement said 150,000 people attended the People's Climate March on the White House as up to 375 sister marches took place throughout the United States and around the world coinciding with President Donald Trump's 100th day in office.
"We're blown away by the numbers," Paul Getsos, the Peoples Climate Movement National Coordinator said. "We like to say 'to change everything, we need everyone' and everyone is showing up. This movement for climate, jobs and justice will only grow stronger."
The march began at 12:30 p.m. as demonstrators gathered in the 90 degree heat near the Capitol with plans to march past the White House on the way to the Washington Monument.
During the first 100 days of Trump's presidency the Environmental Protection Agency has faced proposed budget cuts and rollbacks of Obama administration policies on fossil fuels and other climate friendly regulations.
While the government's actions inspired many in the crowd, Getsos said the organization, which held its first march in 2014, had this march planned before Trump's victory.
"This march was planned before the election as a strategic moment to continue to build power to move our leaders to act on climate while creating family-sustaining jobs, investing in frontline and indigenous communities and protecting workers who will be impacted by the transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy," he said.
Unlike last week's March for Science only one out of eight groups participating in the march featured scientific researchers, instead drawing groups of labor activists and indigenous people.
Celebrities also joined the march, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio who marched with an indigenous rights group and held a sign that read, "Climate change is real."
The People's Climate Movement hopes the march can assist in overturning legislature that prioritizes economic growth over environmental concerns.
"We've already seen just how effective people power is against this administration: Trumpcare? Withdrawn. Muslim ban? Blocked," the group's website states. "Now Trump's entire fossil fuel agenda is next, and we believe that the path forward is based in the voice of the people -- which is expressed first and foremost through mass protests and mass marches."
People's Climate March draws massive crowd to Washington, D.C. on President Trump's 100th day in office
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Washington D.C. on Saturday for the People's Climate March, calling for climate action on President Donald Trump's 100th day in office.
More than 150,000 people joined the march in Washington, according to organizers.
Organizers said the crowd size exceeded their expectations. The National Park Service issued the march a permit for 100,000 people, designating a space from 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, down 3rd Street and down Jefferson Avenue to 7th Street.
By 1 p.m., the march had clearly surpassed the space by more than a dozen blocks, organizers said.
"We're blown away by the numbers," People's Climate Movement national coordinator Paul Getsos said in a statement Saturday.
Although the march is anchored in the U.S. capital, there were hundreds of sister marches happening in cities across the country and around the globe, including Geneva, Amsterdam and Lisbon.
The event stems from the historic People's Climate March on September 21, 2014, the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit. The march, organized by the People's Climate Movement, drew 400,000 people to the streets of New York City, demanding that global leaders act on climate change.
This year's march coincides with Trump's 100th day in office, though organizers said it was planned ahead of the U.S. presidential election. The event aims to pressure leaders to act on climate change while creating family-sustaining jobs, investing in front-line and indigenous communities and protecting workers who would be affected by the transition to a clean, renewable energy economy.
"This march grew out of the relationship building among some of the country's most important progressive organizations and movements," Getsos said in a statement Saturday. "There was a simple demand -– act.
"Today's actions are not for one day or one week or one year," Getsos added.
In Washington, marchers gathered at Union Square near the Capitol at 12:30 p.m. ET before marching up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. The marchers plan to then encircle the White House, calling for action.
The crowds will reconvene at the Washington Monument grounds to listen to music and speakers from around the country, including an indigenous community leader from the Gulf Coast, an Iraq war veteran, a South Carolina pastor, a Muslim imam, a Las Vegas student and a nurse affected by Hurricane Sandy, according to organizers.
Celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, were among those marching in Washington. The actor posted a photo on Twitter after the march with a caption saying, "Honored to join Indigenous leaders and native peoples as they fight for climate justice."