From the front lines of the Women’s March

From the front lines of the Women’s March

By Ellen Ratner   
At least 500,000 protesters lined the streets in Washington for the Women's March. Douglas Christian

WASHINGTON — This was quite a week between the inauguration and the Women’s March in Washington. The Women’s March in Washington was one of 600 marches that took place across the world. By pretty much anyone’s estimate, about half-a-million people attended the Washington, D.C., march, although some people think many more were present.

In Washington, D.C., the marchers were more creative in their posters than they were back in the 1960s. The largest march I attended was in November of 1969, and the signs people carried were basically to end the war. Signs during this march were for gender identity, gay rights and women’s rights, abortion, health care, gun control, immigrant rights, equal pay, racial justice, worker rights and climate change. In the 1960s, if the streets were as crowded as they were on Saturday, people would have broken through the police barriers.

This time, people listened to the officers and waited patiently even though the organizers had not planned for so many people and people could not join the larger march. Perhaps it was a sign of protest in the 21st century: People were spurred on by the Internet and began to have their own mini-marches on side streets.

Women’s voices were heard around the world with a record-setting number of people protesting around the globe. Douglas Christian/TMN

Our small news organization had many people on the ground to report what happened.

“A platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” actress and activist America Ferrera told protesters. “But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America!”

Gloria Steinem – the feminist who attended the 1963 civil rights march and the anti-Vietnam protest of 1967 – paused from speaking to survey the crowd at the largest rally in the history of the nation’s capital.

“This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life,” Steinem said.

And she reminded America’s 45th president: “The Constitution doesn’t begin with, ‘I, the president.’ It begins with, ‘We, the people.’ So don’t try to divide us!”

Madonna told the crowd: “Welcome to the revolution of love! To the rebellion. To our refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny. The revolution starts here!”

Tens of thousands of people – many wearing pink hats – are participating in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday. Protests are being held in other cities across the nation and the world. (Doug Christian/TMN)

Scarlett Johansson also spoke, saying, “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are our [president] and I want to be able to support you, but first I ask that you support me. Support my sister, support my mother, support my best friend and all of our girlfriends, support the men and women today who are all anxiously waiting to see how your next moves may drastically affect their lives.”

Most interesting were the thousands of knitted pink hats, a project begun in Los Angles right after Thanksgiving. Women knitted these hats from a pattern that was given out on the Internet.

“The pink knitted hats known as p-ssy hats are a symbol of women’s reproductive rights,” Kat Coyle, owner of the Little Knittery in Los Angeles, told Coyle provided the hat’s pattern from the P-ssy Hat Project.

There were many comparisons to the inauguration, but it is hard to compare an inauguration that is planned almost a year in advance with an idea that took hold about two months ago. That is why there could not be a parade permit for the march to take place on the mall, and the permit was granted for Independence Avenue, which could not handle the crowd.

Other cities including Cleveland, Boston and Chicago had many more people than they anticipated, with officials overwhelmed at the numbers.

I was amazed at how courteous people were to each other and how kind and tolerant people were when there were not enough portable bathrooms, and the people with whom I spoke said they had been waiting in line for an hour or more.

The sheer number of people all over the U.S. and the world, who came together on relatively short notice, shows that there is another viewpoint that is held by people who in the large part did not vote for President Trump. It shows that there really is a cultural divide in this country and perhaps elsewhere in the world.

Perhaps, this movement represented by the marchers, like the anti-Vietnam war movement, or the Suffragette movement 100 years ago, will have a strong effect on policy. Let’s certainly hope so. It shows that power really can lie with the people.

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