Just like they did for Barack Obama in 2009, celebrities will descend on Washington for the presidential inauguration later this week – only this time to protest, not celebrate, the incoming president.
The main event, The Women’s March on Washington, is set for the day after the inauguration and is billed as a rally to defend women’s rights after what organizers described as an election cycle filled with insulting rhetoric.
This is where celebrities who have groused for weeks about Donald Trump’s election will have a chance to commiserate – big names including singers Katy Perry and Cher; comedian Amy Schumer; and actresses Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Debra Messing and Patricia Arquette are set to attend. And the crowd could be big. Organizers estimate at least 200,000 people will attend, though the District is anticipating double that.
“Since the election, so many fear that their voices will go unheard,” actress America Ferrera, head of the artists’ committee for the march, said in a statement. “As artists, women, and most importantly dedicated Americans, it is critical that we stand together in solidarity for the protection, dignity and rights of our communities.”
Republicans worry the Saturday march will stand as another demonstration – on the heels of planned protests aimed at disrupting the inauguration itself on Friday – that highlights the divisions from the 2016 race.
Republican strategist and Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe argued Trump’s campaign message was focused on the economy and job creation – and any focus on identity politics is harmful.
“The Democratic Party and those on the left have been so focused on dividing Americans and putting people into categories and various buckets, and it’s to the detriment of focusing on the issues every American cares about, like jobs and rebuilding the economy,” Boothe told FoxNews.com. “Those are the issues that transcend politics, race and sex, and as a woman, I care about where I can find good work, and living in an environment that I can thrive in financially.”
The rally is set to start near the U.S. Capitol on Saturday morning, meant to send what organizers describe as “a bold message” to the 115th Congress and Trump that “women’s rights are human rights.”
Trump’s own history of lewd comments – namely, remarks captured in a 2005 tape in which Trump was heard talking about groping women – as well as numerous accusations, which he denied, of sexual harassment have fueled such criticism toward the incoming president.
But not everyone is going explicitly to protest Trump.
Connecticut organizer, author and activist Heather Waley described the march as a more general statement on behalf of women.
“This rally is not against Donald Trump,” Heather Waley told FoxNews.com. “We are sending a strong message that we will stand up for us, and other groups of people who are being marginalized and whose rights are under attack, and show that we are stronger together.”
Waley expects at least 4,500 participants from Connecticut alone.
“My husband and son are coming – it’s not just women,” Waley told FoxNews.com. “Planning this has been a complete joy and I think it shows the enthusiasm we have to support women, and also the rights of people who aren’t women.”
The Women’s March on Washington committee registered for a permit from the District of Columbia for 200,000 attendees.
However, D.C. Director of Homeland Security Christopher T. Geldart said his office was monitoring hotel, train and bus reservations and estimates a crowd of almost 500,000 people.
“D.C. does First Amendment events every day, so we’re ready,” Geldart told FoxNews.com. “Many times when we have groups running First Amendment events, we have other groups coming to counter them – but they’re also exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Geldart said the District will have its entire police department on 12-hour shifts through the day and night starting Thursday, along with 5,000 National Guardsmen and 3,000 additional outside law enforcement from across the country.
“My mom and my daughter will be walking – the group is coming to do a peaceful event,” Geldart told FoxNews.com. “We want to ensure that the women’s march participants, and groups protesting against their message, can accomplish what they want and get home safely at the end of the day.”
D.C. won’t be the only protest scene on Saturday.
Comedian Chelsea Handler will lead a march in Park City, Utah, as one of the 300 “sister marches” to take place on Jan. 21. All 50 states and Puerto Rico are confirmed to have at least one grassroots-led march that day, as well as cities around the world including Tokyo and Paris, according to Women’s March on Washington organizers.