On Saturday January 22, 2017 there were marches all over the world for women's rights and respect for human dignity. These were global protests against the new Trump regime in the United States. The new U.S. President belittles women and is supported by a political party that plans to systematically strip away health care, decimate the environment, and threatens reproductive freedom. Marchers also demanded protection for the rights of immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBT community and an end to police brutality against African Americans.
There were at least half a million marchers in Washington DC and close to that number in New York City. In the United States there were marches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Honolulu, Savannah, Dallas, Denver, Nashville, and Boise, Idaho, among others cities large and small. There were also marches in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Brasilia, Brazil, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, Tel Aviv, Israel, Erbil, Iraq, Paris, France, London, UK, Florence, Italy, Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town, South Africa, Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, to name just a few. The Chicago protest was so large, an estimated 250,000 people gathered, that police had to stop them from marching for safety reasons. Collectively, globally, marchers carried signs and shouted, "We are not going away."
Trump's belligerent call in his inaugural speech to put America First is rightly viewed as a threat to global stability that may well lead to economic collapse, the abandonment of alliances intended to maintain peace, and ultimately an increased threat of war. Millions of women - mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, wives, and partners, joined by male friends and allies, marched to say no to this agenda.
Notes from the March: Up at 4 AM. To busses organized by local florist Zuzu's Petals by 4:30. Left Park Slope Brooklyn at 5. 90% of the people on our three-bus contingent were women. Most were in their twenties and thirties. We had a few old-timers and some kids. We slept and then sang freedom songs. Arrived in DC at 10:30 AM.
Washington DC was a sea of pink. Most of the marchers wore pink hats or scarves and carried homemade personalized signs. I walked, really mostly stood, with a six-foot high Trump puppet. A Trump mask affixed to a half-gallon water jug mounted on a cardboard dowel. The puppet wore a t-shirt with Trump's image and a quote from one of his "speeches." "Knock the crap out of him. I'll pay the legal expenses." My friends and I joined folksingers from the group Hudson Valley Sally led by David Tarlo on the banjo so we were singing as we stood or marched.
Signs from the March: "Hear Our Voices." "March Forwards, Not Backwards." "Nasty Woman." "My Body, My Choice."
Notes from the March: We couldn't get close to the stage or hear most of the speeches. About 1 PM we were on the steps of one of the federal office buildings and could watch the speakers on a giant screen, but their words where echoing down a corridor of buildings and they were hard to understand. Tweets, emails, and Internet news flashes told us that America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, and Scarlett Johansson were great. By 2 PM everyone near us was shouting, "Let's March! Let's March."
More signs from the March: "Trump is not our President." "Love Trumps Hate." "We the People are Pissed."
Notes from the March: We cut out for an hour searching for a bathroom, finding one in the L'Enfant subway station mall, and then waiting for our turns. Memo to march leaders and Washington DC officials - "How do you have a women's march without enough bathrooms?"
More Signs from the March: "God is coming and She is Pissed." There were lots of variations of "Pussy Power" usually accompanied by cat photos or symbols.
Notes from the March: By 5 PM we finally made it to Pennsylvania Avenue in proximity of the White House. The march was breaking up. We headed back to our busses. Departed at 7:30 PM and arrived back in Brooklyn after 1 AM.
The Washington Women's March alone had three times as many participants as those celebrating Trump's inauguration the day before. President Tweet avoided the protests and simply twitted that if protesters are so unhappy they should have voted. His press secretary charged the media was lying about the numbers. President Tweet seems to have conveniently forgotten that he received three million fewer votes than his opponent.
President Tweet has contempt for virtually everyone and is not going to be moved by mass protests. To stop him a movement for social change and human dignity needs both a short-term and long-term strategy. In the short-term Republican Party elected officials need to know if they continue to support his cruel agenda they will be punished at the polls in the 2018 mid-term elections. In the long-term, the millions of marchers, especially the younger people, need to return home and organize to take over the Democratic Party and make it an engine for progressive social change.
This march invigorated me and everyone else on my bus going home. I am getting older, now sixty-seven, but I will continue to march with this progressive generation and support them in every way possible. I like to shout-out Venceremos, a Spanish slogan from the Cuban Revolution that roughly translates as "We Shall Overcome." Venceremos!
Best poster of the day: "I no longer accept the things I cannot change. I change the things I cannot accept."
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