On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Less than 24 hours later floods of women and men took to main streets all across America and then all the way to Washington to stand in solidarity for not only women’s rights, but human rights across the board.
The weekend that included a march of 6,000 in Park City might be over, but the movement in Utah continued. On day one of the Utah Legislation, thousands of women and men took over the Utah State Capitol. Supporters from every corner of Utah, joined up at City Creek Park and began the walk north up State Street to the Capitol.
The event had just started just as a heavy snowstorm began dumping on the marchers. The marchers continued forward chanting “Love, not hate, makes America great!” “The senators couldn’t hear themselves talk because everyone was so loud,” says Anna Marie Coronado, a Salt Lake City resident.
There were more people than could fit inside the Capitol and hundreds spilled out onto the steps chanting to get their voices heard by lawmakers. “The crowd was overwhelming in such a wonderful way,” says Min Pike, “the energy was loving and caring for everyone. It’s been an experience I’m not sure I have exact words for.”
Pink hats could be seen everywhere. Whole families came out. A little boy of about 10 was yelling into a toy megaphone in support of his mom. Women with strollers or hiking backpacks with toddlers were among the troves of supporters. And men’s voices could be heard in the crowd, “I march because if you are passive, you are part of the oppression. Women’s rights are human rights,” declares local activist, Matt Sincell.
Many marchers came over reproductive rights, especially considering the Trump administration is shaping up to be the whitest male cabinet since the 1980s. In Utah, for example, tampons are subject to sales tax because Utah is one of 40 states that considers tampons “luxury goods,” rather than “necessities.” Even though women have no choice whether they use sanitary hygiene products, Utah State Representative Ken Ivory voted last year against exempting tampons for fear that it would open the door for “all kinds of crazy requests.” Maureen Conroy, a mother of a one-year-old little girl, feels the male-centric Utah Legislature has no right to make a decisions about a female’s body for any reason. “The legislature needs to know that just because you get rid of Planned Parenthood, doesn’t mean you get rid of abortion.”
Although, the main theme was in support of women, several at the event spoke to a higher desire for equality among all. “I marched today for women’s rights. I marched for my wife, my mother and my daughter, and all of the women of our great nation,” says Stephen Proser. “I marched for equal pay, reproductive rights and empowerment. I marched for LGBTQ rights. I marched for the rights of the disabled. I marched for the poor, the disenfranchised and the forgotten. I marched because black lives matter. I marched because I believe we all have a duty to help fulfill the highest ideals of our nation.”
Many others came out to stand in solidarity against President Trump and express their fears of what kind of America the new president will create. The President’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” might be empowering to some, but is frightening to others. Alex Martin wishes “for continued progress rather than the stagnation or even regression which [he] fears may become the norm.” Christian McKay Heidicker worries that “the current president’s rhetoric—specifically on bragging about grabbing women by the genitals—is dangerous and contagious.” Heidicker believes speaking up today is important so people will know there are millions of others out there who will not let men like that get away with treating women (and that includes trans women) as anything less than human.
For Min Pike, she actually marches for every person that came to the Capitol “even the Trump supporters. The fact, that I love too many people who don’t love by the same definition that Trump would give, had me out marching today. I marched most of all because I know what it’s like to not be heard and it’s terrifying and infuriating and the sooner we can end that the better. I marched because I can.”
The marches could be seen on news stations and social media platforms around the world—but many worry whether their voices were actually heard. Even though, over 2 million people marched on Saturday, January 22, the President first mocked the movement “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt the cause badly,” then sending out a scripted message, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, also dismisses the marches telling George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s “This Week” that she “didn’t see the point.”
Although, Former President Obama’s address may have moved a couple of blocks, one supporter is quick to remind everyone of what America has gleaned from the previous administration. After an eight year presidency built on the slogan of ‘Hope,’ Guy Warner actually sees todays events following in line with former President’s concept. “The last couple of days have left me distressed about the future. However, this movement gives me hope for the future of my sisters, most especially my daughters. This cannot stop today.”
written by: Andrea Peterson