Many activists involved in Saturday’s Womxns March expect quick action from the new administration and say "we are not going to be quiet" about it.
Organizers and participants of the Seattle Womxn’s March Saturday vowed to channel the energy and resolve of its more than 100,000 participants into political action.
The activists warned that President Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress could act quickly to defund Planned Parenthood, reverse protections for immigrants and categorically deny entry to Muslims from some countries.
“We are not going to be quiet and we are not going to back down,” said U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, who participated in the national women’s march in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
The former immigrant-rights activist said Sunday the goal now is to transform marchers into advocates to fight specific proposals as they come up and to bring pressure to bear on the Trump administration and Congress, where the GOP holds majorities in both chambers.
“We have to continue to stand up for a unified vision of the country that is so different from what we heard during the campaign,” Jayapal said.
Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood for Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii, drew the biggest roar from the crowd at the pre-march rally Saturday just by saying where she worked.
As many as 140,000 people took to the streets in Seattle, and more than a million others marched in cities across the country and the world to protest Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president on Friday and the perceived threat the administration poses to women’s and immigrant rights.
Sunday, Charbonneau said the GOP-led Congress could, by the end of the month, introduce legislation to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s ability to be reimbursed by Medicaid for providing medical care to low-income people. She said the legislation could take health-care choice away from millions of women and leave many rural and suburban areas without health clinics.
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“It’s incredibly important for women across the country to say that is unacceptable.,” Charbonneau said.
Immigrant-rights advocates similarly said that within days, Trump could announce executive orders to repeal protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, significantly scale back refugee-resettlement programs and issue a categorical ban on Muslim immigrants from certain countries.
“It could happen very quickly,” said Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica, an immigrant-rights group. He also urged residents to pressure their congressional delegation and singled out Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, the only Republican from the Puget Sound region.
Bernadette Laqueur worked as a volunteer “connector” at Saturday’s march, matching people with organizations dedicated to different causes including immigrant rights, reproductive rights and climate justice.
The size of the crowd swamped the efforts to connect each marcher with a political-action group, but she said, “There is huge potential for political action. The march demonstrated that there is will and energy and organizations out there which can use that energy.”
Laqueur and a friend, Linda Rhines, organized a sign-painting party for the march and sought donations for the International Rescue Committee, which helps relocate refugee families.
By posting on five neighborhood NextDoor.com sites, she said, people donated two carloads full of pots, pans, dishes, linens and other housewares.
Cheri Cornell, executive director of CoolMom and Washington Women for Climate Action Now, said that after the election, she skipped the grieving process and sped straight to action. She said polling on climate issues shows that woman vote in greater numbers than men, are more likely to believe public policy can make a difference and that, as mothers, they carry the moral imperative of children’s futures.
Since the election, her organization’s website is featuring activities each month that visitors can click on, show up for or learn about. This month’s click-on is a petition opposing Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO, as secretary of state.
Joy Gerhard, an organizer of Saturday’s Womxns March, said she knew she had a hit on her hands when she stood on the speaker’s platform at Judkins Park at the start of the rally that would kick off the 3-mile walk.
“There were people on the hillside, people filling the parking lot around the school. People everywhere,” she said. She hopes to document the march and has put out calls for pictures, video and personal stories, which can be sent to her email: womensmarchseattle@gmail.
She noted that participants were not only from Seattle, but from throughout the region — 17 buses in a caravan from the Eastside, 2,600 passengers on the morning ferry from Bainbridge Island, marchers from Port Townsend, Bellingham and Olympia.
She was one of the last to leave Judkins field, three hours after the first marchers set off for Seattle Center, and followed only by a police escort.
She walked alongside several others, including one woman whose sign said on one side, “This is not the end,” and on the other, “This is just the beginning.”