Women protest in hundreds of U.S. cities
for third straight year
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[January 21, 2019]
By Amanda Becker and Katharine Jackson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Women marched in
hundreds of U.S. cities and overseas on Saturday to mark the second
anniversary of demonstrations that drew millions of protesters to the
streets the day after Republican President Donald Trump's inauguration
in January 2017.
Women's March, a national nonprofit organization that evolved from the
initial Washington march, again hosted its main event in Washington,
with hundreds of "sister" marches in other cities.
March On, a separate grassroots coalition that also grew from the
original march, coordinated hundreds of marches in cities such as
Boston, Houston, Baltimore and Denver.
Leaders of both groups said they would use this year's marches to push
policy related to raising the minimum wage, access to reproductive
healthcare and voting rights, among other issues. They are aiming to
mobilize women to vote ahead of the 2020 elections, when Trump is
expected to be the Republican nominee for president.
"There is definitely huge, huge focus on the 2020 elections," said March
On's Natalie Sanchez, an organizer of the 2017 Boston Women's March who
is also with March Forward Massachusetts, which organized Saturday's
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who launched her bid for the 2020
Democratic presidential nomination this week, addressed the women's
march in Des Moines, Iowa, the state that holds the first nominating
contest and acts as a proving ground for White House hopefuls. She told
the crowd that the 2017 march was one of the most influential political
moments in her life.
"Now is the time to get off the sidelines. Our democracy only works when
people like you stand up and demands it," Gillibrand said.
Kimberly Graham, 54, an attorney in Des Moines, said attending the march
there two years ago gave her hope after Trump's election left her
feeling dejected. Her excitement from seeing so many women and
minorities win midterm election races has inspired her to weigh
challenging Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.
"It’s given me a lot of hope that things will turn around. That it is
darkest before the light," Graham said.
Activists say the marches were a chance to celebrate the gains made in
the 2018 elections, which saw more women elected to the U.S. Congress
than ever before.
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Thousands of people participate in the Third Annual Women's March at
Freedom Plaza in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua
The newly elected women - nearly all Democrats - include the first
Muslim women and first Native American women in Congress, as well as
the first black women to represent their states in New England. Many
cited Trump's presidency among the reasons they decided to run for
As the political movement that grew out of hundreds of loosely
affiliated marches in 2017 has grown, divisions have emerged.
In some cities, like New York and Washington, there was more than
one march or demonstration due to criticism that some Women's March
leaders are anti-Semitic - a charge those leaders have sought to
dispel in recent interviews and statements.
Leaders of Women's March and March On say there is a role for
everyone and that divisions in leadership have not detracted from
the overall movement.
Julie Wash, 57, a librarian from Saratoga Springs, New York, said
Women's March leader Tamika Mallory - who has faced blowback for her
support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan - is being held to
a different standard than Trump and other white, male leaders.
"There’s a level of accountability that we need to hold white
establishment men to if we’re going to hold Tamika Mallory to that
standard," Wash said.
Wash came to the Washington march with her friend Nan Sullivan, 65,
a business owner also from Saratoga Springs.
"Give us the whole table. Don't give us a seat. Just give us the
whole table. Get out of the way and we’ll clean up the mess,"
The marches also have been criticized as being unwelcoming to
conservative women, who may support Trump's presidency and oppose
abortion rights. The annual March for Life by anti-abortion
campaigners was held in Washington on Friday, attended by Vice
President Mike Pence.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker and Katharine Jackson in Washington;
additional reporting by Ginger Gibson in Des Moines; Editing by
Colleen Jenkins, Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler)
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