Women's March returns to DC amid shutdown and controversy

Despite multiple hurdles, the third annual Women's March is returning to Washington

The original Women's March in 2017 drew hundreds of thousands of protesters; the exact size of the turnout is still subject to politically charged debate, but it's generally regarded as the largest Washington protest since the Vietnam era. This year, organizers submitted a permit application estimating up to 500,000 people but the actual turnout is expected to be far lower. Parallel marches will be held in dozens of U.S. cities.

Organizers had originally planned to gather Saturday on the National Mall, but with the forecast calling for snow and freezing rain Saturday and the National Park Service no longer plowing the snow, the march's location and route was altered this week to start at Freedom Plaza and march down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel.

This year's march has also been roiled by an intense ideological debate. In November, Teresa Shook, one of the movement's founders, publicly accused the four main leaders of the national march organization of anti-Semitism. This accusation was targeted specifically at two primary leaders: Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American with a long history of criticizing Israeli policy, and Tamika Mallory, who has maintained a longstanding association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The four march organizers have denied the charge, but Sarsour has publicly expressed regret that they were not "faster and clearer in helping people understand our values."