Women march against sexism, racism & Trump

By Kris Hamel
January 25, 2017

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A massive women’s demonstration of more than 1 million people in Washington, D.C., and 673 other protests around the U.S. and on every continent took place on Jan. 21, the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency. Even establishment media admitted that the size of the protest was 2 to 3 times larger than Trump’s inaugural gathering.

These women and their allies, 5 million strong worldwide, came out to decry the disgusting sexism and misogyny of the new billionaire president. Trump’s known actions include many cases of alleged sexual assault or harassment and the video that surfaced in early October in which he said “Grab them by the pussy” in reference to women.

On Jan. 21, women said, “Enough!” and vowed to fight back against the Trump agenda of sexism, racism, virulent anti-immigrant attacks, cutbacks, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, Islamophobia and all other forms of anti-woman, anti-worker, anti-poor attacks.

Following are reports from Jan. 21 activists on the ground around the U.S.

In San Diego, at least 50,000 people gathered downtown to send a message of support for women’s rights and an open challenge to the misogynist now occupying the White House. The spacious Civic Center Plaza couldn’t contain but a fraction of the participants, who spilled out into surrounding streets — making much of downtown impassable to vehicular traffic — before marching to the second rally site at the County Administration Building. As the front of the march reached the site, protesters were still streaming out of the plaza a mile away.

The overall theme was “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.” Speakers came from a wide range of backgrounds, including Latinx, Black, LGBTQ and Asian. All of them spoke to “Why I march.” One popular banner read, “A Woman’s Place Is in the Revolution.”

Another solidarity march of at least 2,000 was held in northern San Diego County. According to sfgate.com, there were 50 marches across California, with “crowds numbering in the thousands … in Napa, Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa” and 25,000 in San Jose.

In Los Angeles, an estimated 750,000 people shut down all of downtown. Workers World Party activists held a very visible street rally, drawing in many wanting more information about socialism. Maggie Vascassenno of WWP, who spoke to many women interested in building a people’s movement, told WW, “People are ready to fight, and we’ve been ready for them.” Many Workers World newspapers and Black History Month flyers were distributed.

Women and supporters clogged the entire Bay Area with six different marches on Jan. 21. Women’s March Bay Area claimed a total of 200,000 participants. In Oakland, there were up to 80,000 people, with 100,000 marching in San Francisco.

In Oakland, a contingent called Rise, Resist, Unite was organized by Gabriela USA, the international Filipino women’s party, to “RISE against Fascism as we say No to Trump and his administration, ­RESIST the militarization of our lands, communities, and bodies, and to UNITE for the liberation of all oppressed peoples.” Organizers called for an end to violence against women and to “highlight the economic, political, and cultural aspects by connecting how imperialism perpetuates and worsens violence against women in all its forms.”

Labor Rising Against Trump had contingents in both Oakland and San Francisco marches. In Oakland, activists held a banner reading, “Workers’ Rights Are Women’s Rights.”

NY and East Coast women rise

New York City’s Fifth Avenue surged with a multigenerational, multinational sea of angry, determined, energized women and men supporters who marched against Trump and for women’s liberation. The protest began at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the U.N. with a brief rally. The official estimate for the six-hour protest was 400,000 marchers.

Families pushed strollers while some women rode in wheelchairs. Handmade signs read “Make America MEXICO again!” and “Don’t tread on me” above a drawing of a cis woman’s reproductive system. Many signs emphasized equality, inclusiveness and solidarity, especially “Black Lives Matter” and “Not My President.” The color of the day was pink, with many women wearing pink “pussyhats” and carrying signs that read, “This pussy grabs back.” Relatively few signs referred to Hillary Clinton, though some repeated campaign slogans like “The ­future is female.”

The International Working Women’s Day Coalition had a lively contingent, which included women from Workers World Party, Picture the Homeless and the local branch of Gabriela USA. “The warm response to our message, which stresses that every issue is a woman’s issue, indicates there is a powerful movement for social justice in birth led by women,” said Monica Moorehead, coalition co-coordinator and WWP’s 2016 presidential candidate.

In Syracuse, N.Y., over 2,500 ­people encircled the federal building, out­number­­ing 8 to 1 a local anti-woman, ­anti-abortion march.

Black Lives Matter organizer ­Nikeeta Slade powerfully named the day as a “which-side-are-you-on moment.” The protest also included speakers from Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the LGBTQ community and the Onondaga Nation. The event was followed by a political and cultural “People’s Inauguration” sponsored by the brand-new Central New York Solidarity Coalition initiated by the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Syracuse Peace Council.

Buffalo, N.Y., saw several thousand opponents of the Trump agenda march through downtown in one of the city’s largest demonstrations ever.

In Philadelphia an estimated 50,000 people, twice the number organizers had anticipated, turned out. Their signs reflected a wide variety of concerns. For many younger people, it was their first time at a protest.

The rally started with the acknowledgment that the event was taking place on the ground where the historic Million Woman March, organized by women of color, drew close to a million people, mostly Black women, in October 1997.

Women pour out in South, Midwest

In Roanoke, Va., thousands of women and allies flooded Elmwood Park for a speak-out of labor and community participants. Then the multinational, all-ages crowd marched through downtown in one of the largest protests in Roanoke history.

About 20,000 people rallied and marched in Raleigh, N.C.

Despite thunderstorms, an estimated 60,000 people gathered downtown for the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women. Just as the opening rally began, the rain stopped and the crowd cheered as the sun came out.

Women and others of all ages and nationalities formed a dense, multiblock demonstration that ended at the Georgia State Capitol. For many, this was their first protest, and whether 16 or 66 years old, all seemed to experience empowerment and solidarity, especially at news of similar marches around the world.

In Michigan, protesters came out by the thousands in the capital city of Lansing, where a breakaway march led by militant youth took place. Demonstrations were also held in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Saginaw and other cities and towns large and small.

In Rockford, Ill., Workers World Party and Rockford Youth Activism organized a “March against Trump and Sexism.” A high-energy crowd marched through downtown streets to city hall, where speakers, representing youth, environmental, Indigenous, LGBTQ and other organizations, denounced the Trump administration and declared they will continue to organize and build solidarity in their communities. A “Women’s March Rockford” also brought out hundreds to support women’s rights.

Hundreds took to the streets for a Femme Solidarity March in Milwaukee. Poor and working people from across Wisconsin, at least 100,000 strong, joined the Women’s March in Madison, the state capital. Speeches were made, bands played music and people spoke of creating a sustainable movement for women’s rights while resisting the Trump administration. Further meetings are planned to continue organizing and mobilizing.

‘We won’t go back!’

In Denver, some 75,000 women and men were in the streets. The message was clear: Women in 2017 will not go back to 1950. What is new is that not only were more men present, but a unity of struggle was shown for immigrants, Black Lives Matter, incarcerated women and those facing economic oppression. Noticeably missing was an understanding of how U.S. wars impact the planet as well as women here and around the world.

Over 25,000 women and their supporters took to the streets and marched to Houston City Hall in the largest demonstration since the historic immigrant rights action in 2006.

In Portland, Ore., feminists of all stripes donned their pink hats and sang and chanted while winding their way through the city. The crowd choked all but the widest streets, obliging demonstrators to take the sidewalk, flowing around parked cars and old trees. The demonstration eclipsed the waterfront park and took the Morrison bridge, temporarily closing it to traffic.

In Seattle, an estimated 175,000 people countered Trump’s racism and bigotry and years of attacks on women. The marchers traveled 3.6 miles from Judkins Park through downtown to Seattle Center. The mass transit and traffic systems were overwhelmed. Thousands of colorful hand-made signs rebuked Trump’s misogyny while demonstrators chanted “Black lives matter!” and other chants. The march went on all day. Women’s marches were held in at least eight other Washington state cities and towns.

Contributors included Jasen Vyvyan Balmat, Tommy Cavanaugh, Sage Collins, Sue Davis, Ellie Dorritie, Terri Kay, Dianne Mathiowetz, Bob McCubbin, Jim McMahan, John Parker, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac, Dante Strobino, Gloria Verdieu, Viviana Weinstein, and Wisconsin Bureau.