WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands marched on the nation’s capital Saturday in support of women’s rights and gender equality.
“We understand that a year ago Donald Trump and Mike Pence were sworn in and immediately began turning the clock back on women’s rights, worker’s rights, LGBT rights, and our fundamental values of inclusion, opportunity and tolerance,” said Takoma Park resident and current Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez speaking to a crowd gathered around the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Perez, who served one term on the Montgomery County Council, urged people to stand up for progressive beliefs and to “organize, mobilize and vote for Democrats.”
Marking the one-year anniversary of the 2017 presidential inauguration, the march drew thousands from around the region and country, many of whom held signs, to protest the actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration.
Residents from Montgomery County attended the march in protest of the administration’s policies.
Bethesda resident Skip White attended the march with his family and held a sign denouncing corruption taking place in Congress and White House.
“I’m out here because the only way we get change and a Democratic government is if the people insist on change,” White said. “Obstruction of justice was enough to impeach Nixon, which led to his resignation, we have far passed the level of crimes committed by Nixon with the Trump administration.”
“How much more does it take … when is it enough?” he added.
District of Columbia resident Jody Gil – an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Blair High School who participated in last year’s march – said she felt encouraged by Saturday’s turnout, and explained how the Trump administration’s immigration policies are felt in her classroom, where even after receiving deportation notices, several of her students still show up for class each day.
“My role has become a consoler at times…just to watch out for our children and to make sure they know what their rights are,” she said. “I feel like whatever happens with [the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program] will set the stage for the other aspects of immigration law and enforcement.”
Morgan Walls, an ESOL teacher from Richmond, Va., recounted similar experiences and explained that recent activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raised concerns among her students.
“As a teacher, my role has changed from not just teaching but also providing emotional support and counseling,” she said. “My students have been very fearful of deportation – of their parents or of themselves – they’ve been afraid to come to school and leave their houses.”
Laura Neuwirth, from Arlington, Va., held a sign that read “Ratify the ERA Now” referring to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explaining that many current laws currently lack full equality for women.
“Justice Scalia acknowledged that women are not equally represented in the Constitution and we have to change that,” she said.
Karen Hansen from Connecticut said her inability to attend last year’s march and variety of issues encouraged her to make the trip this year.
Hansen, who works with elder and disabled adults, explained that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 directly affected her job.
“You can’t cut services for people that need them and give the money to rich people and think it’s going to trickle down,” she said. “It never has and never will.”
Ryan Kincaid, from Vienna, Va., attended after having also participated in last year’s march. He held a sign criticizing Fox News.
“I’ve kind of been scared of Fox News since my eighth-grade civics class – they had a study on different biases and news organizations, and when it came time to study Fox, it just kind of scared me,” he said. “When criticizing Bush, [Fox] said it was unpatriotic but as soon as a black guy got elected then that [suggestions that then-President Obama was unpatriotic] was all we heard from Fox News.”
Scattered among numerous signs calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, libertarian feminists also appeared at the event.
“We’re bringing the message of libertarian feminism to the conversation,” said Washington, D.C. resident Kat Murti, a co-founder of Feminists for Liberty, an organization aimed at promoting feminism within the libertarian movement. “We are anti-sexism, anti-statism, pro-market and pro-choice on everything.”
“We believe the state has been one of the largest perpetrators of gender inequality and gender violence,” she added. “We want government to get out of the way and for people to live their own lives, their best lives.”
Abortion attracted numerous counter-protesters.
“The Women’s March, they say they are for women but they support abortion which kills over 450,000 women in America every year and that is not consistent,” said Seth Drayer, Director of Training at Created Equal, an anti-abortion advocacy organization based in Columbus, Ohio. “To be pro-women, you should be supporting all women not just those who are born like you.”
Erin Lilly from Sterling, Va,, stood in front of a group of anti-abortion activists holding large pictures of aborted fetuses.
“I’m really upset with these particular ‘pro-life’ people who aren’t actually very ‘pro-life’,” she said holding a sign that read “Do it for her” and featured pictures of numerous women politicians including former Sentinel news editor and current Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-13).
Lilly explained how she spent last year working to keep the Virginia Governor’s mansion in Democratic hands by electing then-Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) to replace the outgoing governor, Terry McAuliffe (D-Va).
“I’m here for all the women that couldn’t be here, women that fought for rights before and the ones that will continue after,” she said. “I think we need more women in the House, we need more women in the Senate, and we need a woman president.”
A number of marchers made their way to the north side of the White House, where a confrontation transpired between a handful of marchers and Annapolis resident Jeff Hulbert – a Second Amendment activist who was there in support of President Trump and his administration.
Attempting to mediate the dispute, Silver Spring resident Alexander Wilkerson stepped in between Hulbert and the marchers.
“I’m tired of seeing people sit around and bombarding each other instead of actually having conversations,” he explained.
“I’m a demonstrator for organized government and I wasn’t going to stop them demonstrating or protesting – they came up and yelled at me but it doesn’t mean that I leave,” said a grateful Hulbert. “He [Wilkerson] wanted me to be heard and see if there’s a chance that both sides got to say their peace.”