On Saturday January 21 people from all over the world marched in solidarity with marchers in Washington D.C. The march was to protest the newly sworn in 45th president of the United States and his statements about and behavior toward women. It’s been no secret that Donald Trump says he divorced his first wife because she just wasn’t pretty any more after having babies. I believe it was his second wife who claims he brutally beat and raped her. A recording was recently released where he bragged about sexually assaulting women by “grabbing them in the pussy.” However, millions of voters felt okay about that. That “men will be men.” This and other derogatory statements, bigoted statements, made by Mr. Trump is what instigated the massive marches, not just in the US, but in the entire world including Antarctica. Twenty-five years ago we watched on live TV the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas. He was accused by law professor Anita Hill of sexually harassing her. Republican senator after republican senator said that although they believed Ms. Hill’s statements, that this wasn’t enough for them not to confirm Justice Thomas for a position on the Supreme Court. This is the republican’s stance on women. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are no big deal. They are inconsequential. Republicans have only beefed up their war against women over this last quarter century and Donald Trump is the embodiment of that war on women.
I participated in the Seattle march. Bursitis in both knees prevented me from marching, but didn’t prevent me from participating. When I arrived at the starting point, Judkins Park in Central Seattle, the event was already under way by about a half an hour. Two blocks from the park there was a huge crowd of people of all walks of life, holding signs and lining the streets and sidewalks. I made my way to the six-block long park that was filled wall to wall with people.
Shortly after I arrived at the park everyone began streaming out to begin the march. It was three miles all down hill to Westlake Park and another mile to the ending point at the Seattle Center. Being unable to march, I sat on a bench and waited for the crowd to thin before planning my next step. The crowd never thinned. I watched hoards and hoards of people stream out of the park in a quite orderly fashion. By the time the first people out of the park reached the end point, the last of the people at the park were beginning the march. I found a break in the mobs and headed north one block where I caught a bus downtown, hopping off at Westlake Park. I hung about watching as people marched spread the width of the street and up on the sidewalks. There are about six or seven blocks between Westlake Park and Jefferson St. where the marchers turned to head north on Seattle’s 4th Avenue. There was a long stream of marchers to the north and to the south as far as my eye could see. After about half an hour I took the monorail to the Seattle Center. Inside the Center House were long lines of people at every food vendor, at all the restrooms. Men, women and children wearing pink “pussy hats” and carrying signs. Outside there were more large clusters of the same standing along the Flag Pavilion and hundreds sitting alongside the iconic Peace Fountain. There were throngs of marchers still pouring into the Center. I stuck around for about an hour and a half and there were still throngs of marchers flowing into the Center.
This was largely a quiet march. There was little to no chanting. There was some shouting and while at the Center, I saw a small group of teenaged girls marching around the Peace Fountain chanting, He’s racist, he’s sexist. He doesn’t represent us.
The last estimate I heard on the number of marchers held at about 200 thousand. But three years ago when the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl it was estimated that 700 thousand congregated downtown to watch their victory parade. When I’ve attended rallies and marches for climate change, or to be part of the Occupy Movement, the largest event of that nature was four to six thousand. A mile south of Westlake Park is the football stadium that holds 50 thousand. This is why we’ve lost our democracy. People will get off their butts and head downtown to watch men with fake muscles fight over a hunk of leather, but can’t be bothered to participate in their democracy. Democracy is not a spectator sport. If you want democracy you have to participate. Everyone has to participate. This means you pay attention to what your lawmakers are doing, how they are voting. You write to them and let them know where you stand on the issues. And this means you occasionally participate in a rally.
Impressive as it was to see all the people marching for equality, for democracy, I can’t help but wonder if this is a one off and that most people are going to go home, feeling they did something and go back to their banal TV shows. I hope not. I for one will keep fighting, bursitis and all.
– Photos property of Holly Homan all rights reserved.