As Americans marched across the nation a last minute event slowly becomes an annual world phenomenon.
By Solomon Smith, Editor-in-Chief
The Second annual Women’s March in L.A. pushed a singular message to the GOP—they are coming for them in the 2018 mid-term elections.
In a massive effort to pushback against the election of President Donald J. Trump last year, Americans across the nation took to the streets in protest immediately after his election. Pink hats, celebrity speeches and crowds gathered in major cities across the country in an almost unified effort by the left to show their displeasure.
This year’s event, held Saturday January 20, was themed, “Power to the Polls,” a phrase used to represent a push to take back the house from , and President Trump and the Republicans, through increased voter participation. This year, almost 600,000, according to a tweet by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, showed up to the march in L.A. The march’s face book page showed 75,000 people had reserved tickets for the event and Los Angeles prepared its roads and transportation systems for many more.
In response to the march Trump tweeted:
"Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!"
It began at the iconic Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. Movement from there started 10.a.m. and ended on the steps of city hall an hour later. There celebrity guests spoke to massive crowds about the #metoo movement, sexual assault among women and pushed for voters to take back the House and Senate in the 2018 mid-term elections. Last year was a tumultuous 365 days for Trump and Republicans. With the government shutdown (thanks to 4 Republican defectors) and the 2018 mid-term elections looming, Democrats and the left see an opening for Dems in local elections.
Guest speakers from last year like Natalie Portman, spoke of their own experiences with sexual assault and the future of the country, while trying to exclude heavy talk of Trump. Viola Davis delivered an impassioned speech in the tradition of southern preachers, and the Black Lives Matter movement was represented as well, although responses to the BLM movement were luke-warm at best, according to some.
Lacy Smith, a 19 yea-old African-American woman who attended the march with friends, indicated the crowd was not as receptive to the BLM speakers, saying, “When they were done and it was time to applaud it seemed like five black people were like ‘woo’, but everybody else was not.”
Many people of color and the BLM movement feel they are fighting for the rights of everyone but that their white counter parts have not been as supportive of them as they could be.
Smith gives an example of the use of color as a prop saying, “There was another part when they said white women stand down and let the black people talk or something.”
She and some others believe that this made women of color a ”side issue.” Even with the criticism the event had a more hopeful, less angry energy than last year, and some came specifically to foster a sense of goodwill.
The Los Angeles Sikh Foundation provided free food and water for 5,000 people and were invited back by the organizers after providing free food and water for participants last year. They provided their own trucks and vans to transport food and volunteers to serve the food. Three stations provided the refreshments; one for water, one for food, and one for hot tea. Many of their younger members participated in the march before volunteering.
“We were serving to all of the people no matter what they look like or their political opinion,” said Sarbjit Signh, a volunteer with Sihks of L.A.
According to Singh they are concerned about the rise of violence against Sihks, who are generally of Indian descent and are not Muslim, as well as other minorities in the country since Trump’s election.
Many protesters were also worried about immigration.
“We wanted to talk about the dreamers for us that is more important right now,” said an anonymous protester who picked grapes and worked alongside famous activist Ceasar Chavez. When asked about Trump negative comments about immigrants she said, “I come to this country when I was 15 … many of us pay taxes.”
Pushing the importance of the upcoming mid-terms did get through to many young voters, which was the goal of the march.
Marjan Vayghan, a young protester who came early to the march with her own homemade sign and costume said, “Turning eighteen, the greatest thing I was looking forward to was voting and I have been using that every chance I can.”
When asked what she thought they had accomplished with the women’s marches across the country Vayghan said, “I think we can come out into the streets and make bigger news, because he can shut down the government, but voting is not something he can PR his way out of.”