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Boston Women’s March turns out 175,000 to protest Trump

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Boston Women’s March turns out 175,000 to protest Trump
Boston Women's March protestors

Nearly two hundred thousand women packed the Boston Common on Saturday to protest a presidential administration whose leader and nominees have taken actions such as bragging about sexual assault; making statements threatening to the rights of people of color, immigrants and Muslims; challenging the safety of many Americans’ health care and expressing reluctance to acknowledge the full impact of human action on climate change.

Organizers said they hoped to draw 20,000 people. By latest estimates, they received about 175,000. Boston’s protest was one of many taking place not just in cities across the nation, but in cities across the world.

“We are part of a global effort, with marches in every single state in the nation,” announced Mariama White-Hammond, associate minister of Boston’s Bethel AME Church, to the thousands gathered in solidarity. Many speakers called upon the audience to promise to continue vigilance and action in the days to come.

“With solidarity, we have hope,” one speaker said. “Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing that is not faced can be changed.”

Protestors bore signs with slogans slamming Donald Trump for statements challenging the rights of citizens he, as president, now is charged to protect and demanding policy that safeguards the environment. Slogans declared everything from “Girls just want fundamental human rights” to “There is no Planet B.” Many demonstrators wore pink knit hats with ears — so-called “pussy hats” — which have become a protest popular symbol and are a reference Trump’s statement that he grabs women’s genitals without consent. One sign underscored a message of the day — that Americans will not accept Trump as the status quo: “This is not normal,” the sign read.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the stage, and was greeted by cheers that nearly drowned out the first lines of her speech. She called upon the crowd to fight for women to attain pay equity and to have rights to control their body and their reproduction. The Republican-lead repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cause women to lose access to affordable contraceptives and lose protections against being financially penalized or denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy. Trump’s Supreme Court Justice picks could overturn Roe v. Wade and dissolve marriage equality, Warren said. She urged attendees to raise their voices and keep them heard, not just to fight for women’s rights, but for the rights of all who call this country home.

“I cannot believe I have to say this in 2017: We believe in equal pay for equal work and a women’s right to decide,” Warren said. “[Today] we fight for the basic dignity and respect for every human being. … We fight for all Americans.”

Warren spoke of the a broad menu of needs, criminal justice system reforms and steps to eliminate systemic racism, advancement workers’ protections and alleviation of student loan debt.

Change is possible

Mayor Martin Walsh praised Massachusetts’ history of action, including its leadership in extending health care coverage and marriage equality, and he pledged vigilance.

“No matter what happens nationally, we are going to fight for our rights,” Walsh said.

Barbara Madeloni of Massachusetts Teachers Association said the fight to defeat ballot Question 2 demonstrated that grassroots people-power can win out over Wall Street funding.

Attorney General Maura Healey said lawsuits are one powerful mechanism for fighting federal administrations. As an example, she pointed to a case brought against the Environmental Protection Agency during George W. Bush’s presidency that forced the government to regulate greenhouse gases.

“I have a message for Donald Trump from the people of Massachusetts: We’ll see you in court,” Healey said.