WASHINGTON A week of protests ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president is set to kick off on Saturday with a civil rights march in Washington by activists angry over the Republican’s comments on minority groups including Muslims and Mexicans.
Civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton plans to lead a march along the National Mall ending at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, about two miles (3 km) from the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where Trump will be sworn in as president on Jan. 20.
Trump won his first-ever campaign for elected office with an angry, populist platform that included promises to build a wall along the Mexican border and restrict immigration from Muslim countries, as well as promises to crack down on companies moving jobs out of the United States.
His supporters admire Trump’s experience in business, including as a real estate developer and reality television star, and view him as a brash problem-solver likely to break through political logjams.
Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants and women, and his vow to repeal the sweeping healthcare reform law that was President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, has drawn the anger of many on the left, who plan a series of protests.
“The 2017 march will bring all people together to insist on change and accountability,” Sharpton said. “Donald Trump and his administration need to hear our voice and our concerns.”
Civil rights groups including Sharpton’s National Action Network, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of La Raza, as well as Democratic lawmakers including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York plan to join the Saturday march.
Organizers estimate Saturday’s march will draw some 25,000 protesters.
About 30 groups, almost all of them anti-Trump, have gotten permits to protest before, during and after the inauguration.
By far the biggest event will be the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration, which organizers say could draw 200,000 people.
Thousands of demonstrators also have vowed to shut down the inauguration, including by closing off security checkpoints along the inaugural parade route.
Washington police and the U.S. Secret Service plan to have some 3,000 officers and an additional 5,000 National Guard troops on hand through the events, numbers they say will be sufficient to allow the inauguration and protests to go ahead peacefully.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler)
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