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Women’s March fragmented but not broken

After a controversial year, the Women’s March continues its mission of bringing truth to power, even within itself.

By Solomon Smith, Political News Editor

Los Angeles—A crowd of almost 200,000 gathered yesterday to support the third annual Women’s March LA, a progressive protest that has had to deal with several controversies in the last few months. The theme, “Truth to Power,” was applied not only to the usual opposition, President Donald J. Trump and the Republican party, but to political leadership and the organization itself.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Pershing Square, the march moved toward the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the steps of City Hall, at about 10 a.m., arriving at 11 a.m. Protesters brought up a number of issues on colorful and imaginative signs. Floating balloons shaped like Baby Trumps coupled with posters of anti-Trump rhetoric peppered the crowd, but this year was about more than just Trump. Shanon Galagher’s sign was different, reading, “McConnell could end the shut-down if he wanted to.” When asked what inspired her sign, her answer was simple.

“I’m not focused just on Trump,” said Galagher, “there couldn’t be a Trump without the GOP.”

A hodgepodge atmosphere of a street fair combined with a progressive protest was threaded together by the feminist cause. Nurse’s Union Local 121 brought their message, informing marchers about their ongoing struggle with workloads due to the loss of ancillary workers, soon to be addressed by a bill in the state senate. Pro-choice speakers with megaphones attracted small crowds, while nonprofits solicited supporters. Some Guatemalan immigrants carried their country’s flag to inform protesters about the plight of women in their country, while socialists and communists handed out leaflets to young, progressive—and potentially new—members. 

At the mainstage, however, speakers cast shade at Democratic leadership, which pulled out of the movement after Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory was accused of antisemitism for Instagram posts supporting Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, a known anti-Semite and homophobe. In response, the Women’s March LA distanced itself from the original organizers.

“Because we believe Palestinians have human rights does not mean we are anti-Israel,” said one of the groups leaders, “we are not anti anyone, we are pro humanity.”

Black Lives Matter also blasted LA city leaders for the arrest of protester Dr. Malim Abdullah and spoke about the ostracization of Mallory by her own organization, pointing out what they see as an unfair amount of criticism of women of color.

“We don’t get to wear this resistance and then take it off at the end of the day like pink pussy hats,” said a BLM member.

Another popular speaker was Angelica Salas, the director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA) and respected leader in immigration reform. Salas pointed out the recent separation of parents and children at the border, as well as the deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, who both died last December while in the custody of  border agents, according to a report by CNN. In her speech, Salas held Kirstjen Nielsen, director of the Department of Homeland Security, responsible.

“…that is why I am asking you to demand the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen,” said Salas, “who has trouble telling the truth lately.”

Nielson is the subject of recent reports by the New York Times, and Washington Post that she may have lied in a Senate Congressional hearing about the policy of separating families at the border.

This year’s march, though fragmented, emphasized the coming together over women’s rights.  Last years elections had the highest number of women to win seats in Congress in U.S. history. As the country prepares for the 2020 presidential election, the power of women in office will be prescient for both parties, as each seeks the female vote. Jaya Harper, 17, daughter of actress Laura Dern, spoke directly to the intent of progressives.

“We will make it so more women will be in the room when decisions are made,” said Harper.


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