Protest march keeps feminism at its core
by Noah Kotlarek
(See more of Noah’s coverage of the Women’s March here)
(Artwork by Maddie Rizzo – Instagram @rizzo.art)
On January 19, 2019 the third Women’s March in New York City took place. It marked the two-year anniversary of Trump’s presidency which began on January 20, 2017. Though dubbed the Women’s March, the parade of protest was more of an overarching anti-Trump fest.
This year in New York City, there were two competing women’s marches, sort of, one was a march, the other a rally. The first, which was organized by the Women’s March Alliance and the only one with the proper police permit, will be the focus of this article. The other march was formed by the New York chapter (Women’s March NYC) of the Women’s March Organization, the group responsible for forming the original 2017 march in D.C.
This year however, Women’s March NYC did not hold a march in Manhattan but rather a rally in front of the New York County Court in the Financial district.
The Women’s March Alliance event began with a rally at Columbus Circle. Newly elected representative from the Bronx and Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, delivered a speech about fighting for justice. She sees the march as an extension of Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Movement. “Sometimes the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table,” she says. A highlight of Ocasio-Cortez’s four-minute speech was when she pointed to the crowd and said, I know there are some future congresswomen, future councilwomen, and presidents out there.
After the short speech and rally, thousands marched from Central Park past the Trump International Hotel and flooded into 6th avenue bearing signs in various degrees of profanity. The mildest of signs read, “I’m with her.” The least, “Fuck off, Donald.” One older woman, a Fordham Law graduate, touted a sign reading, “Dear GOP, you lost these” with a pair of plastic testicles taped to the bottom. She contends that the GOP has become weak, having succumbed to the radical ideas of President Donald Trump. She, like other protest goers who held up signs reading “Mitch, stop being a bitch,” want Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell to resist Trump’s will and approve the bills proposed by Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer to end the current partial government shutdown. Senator McConnell blocked the bill the democratic duo proposed last Wednesday (January 23rd) which allotted more funding for border security but not for the wall.
There were a few chants that the protestors sang. The most prevalent being, one person saying “what does democracy look like” followed by the response “this is what democracy looks like!” In solidarity with that idea, a public school teacher when asked about his thoughts on the march, responded with “this is what democracy looks like.” The teacher emphasized the importance of teaching the nation’s children to participate in the political process. “Resistance is patriotic” was painted onto an American flag held by a protestor, an ode to the kneeling NFL players and Ocasio-Cortez’s message that being polite is not the same as speaking out against injustice.
Other highlights of the march included the Brazilian Fogo Azul drummers and the Gays against Guns. The forty-some drummers, all dressed in blue created a strong presence and energy with their drum beating and banging. There was a brief pause in the drumming followed by a drum roll. The protestors went silent. Then the Fogo Azul drummers went crazy with their drums -very loud- and the crowd went wild. There was explosion of wooohoooos and hoorays. The Gays against Guns was a much more silent and solemn demonstration. Twenty queer people sauntered in white veils with their heads tilted towards the ground and pictures of those victim to gun violence in their hands.
One protestor and Fordham freshman, Kendall Cascell, says this was her first Women’s March. Unfortunately, she could not attend last year’s march in Long Beach, California, as she was taking the SAT. When asked about Trump’s immigration policy, a protestor holding a sign “We are the caravan” questioned if the president even had one. Another protestor, when asked what she thought of Trump’s cabinet responded, “Not much, I think we should impeach him, and lock them up!”
As for the Cavalier of Trump loyalists, there were not many. For the two hours I was there, I counted one. He was standing outside Trump tower with a very tall “TRUMP 2020” sign. Brave he was. He remained unwavering as he was pelted by questions from the anti-Trump majority.
Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for presidency and the momentum of the #metoo movement have led to the mass ridicule of President Trump and an increased presence of women in politics. What does this mean going forward? Will women from non-white backgrounds like the Indian-Black Kamala Harris and the Native American Elizabeth Warren be able to defeat Trump in 2020? Regardless of that elections outcome, these trends will continue to increase participation and interest in American democracy.