Clackamas County residents among 100 thousand in Women's March on Portland
Newly elected Milwaukie City Councilor Angel Falconer attended the march to 'show solidarity with women, LGBTQ, differently abled, people of color, Muslims, and others marginalized in this country and attacked by Trump's campaign.'
The Women's March on Portland last Saturday was exhilarating; the camaraderie contagious. I arrived a little late for the start of the march, but I had no trouble finding it. In fact, I heard it before I saw it — an ocean of sound, wave after wave of cheering.
Then I joined the river of people filling the street as far as the eye could see, in front of me, behind me, all around me. People standing on dumpsters, people waving signs in parking garages, office buildings and retail shops.
Women, men, children, babies, dogs — all there for one reason: To support human rights, no matter what gender, race, color or economic standing.
One chant repeated over and over was "women's rights are human rights." Another was "love trumps hate."
As we passed by an office building a young woman on the third floor yelled out: "What does democracy look like?" And the crowd answered back: "This is what democracy looks like."
Newly elected Milwaukie City Councilor Angel Falconer said that she and her 6-year-old daughter attended the march to "show solidarity with women, LGBTQ, differently abled, people of color, Muslims, and others marginalized in this country and attacked by Trump's campaign. And to show the rest of the world that the majority of us don't support Trump or his dark vision."
She added, "What I'd like to see more than anything is for Trump to actually be a president for all Americans, to see the hundreds of thousands of us demonstrating and to actually listen to the nearly 3 million more people who didn't vote for him than who voted for him."
On a more positive note, Falconer said she hopes more women and young people will be inspired to run for office, and added that we all need to support a new wave of diverse candidates.
As for the march itself, she noted that it was cold and wet, but the massive crowd was a resilient and peaceful group.
"We sang and danced in the rain with friends, family, and strangers, and just really enjoyed the feeling of community that comes from participating in an event like this," she said.
Falconer added, "I'll cherish the memory of holding my daughter's hand as we marched in unity with 100,000 others to make our voices heard."
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba also attended the event and said he had "never seen an outpouring like this following any election" in his memory.
This "speaks to the concern that a lot of people have on many issues, not just issues around women and equity, but also immigration and climate change—there are dozens of issues," Gamba noted.
Fearing the future
Portland resident Peg Ortner said she was at the march "to be heard. There are so many things I fear we will be losing during the next four years."
She added, "I absolutely support all women's fight against sexual predators and the fight for health care."
Trisha Michael, a Hillsboro resident, said she loved the unity on display at the march.
"Everyone is here for a basic truth — we all matter. This is the most healing expression; to stand up and celebrate that we are here," she said.
Susie Pierce is a former Oregonian now living in Vancouver, Washington. She commented that the energy of the event was positive and not hateful.
"People are here for many reasons, but we are all consolidated. It's like walking into a bubble where we all feel like we are a part of it," she said.
Another out-of-towner was Kris Yannelli, who drove to the march from Ashland.
"I want to be motivated, focused and active in fighting the rhetoric and being part of the movement for social change," she said.
"All of us together is powerful and healing. We all are part of the equation to fight misogyny and hate," Yannelli said.
Use it or lose it
Elizabeth and Sadie Durant, who have been married for 10 years, brought their 4-year-old daughter, Ellie, to the march. Both women were wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and said they also brought Ellie to a march in 2015, protesting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
"I'm here for my daughter, so she can live in a world free of sexual violence and a world free of violence against black and brown people," said Elizabeth Durant, an assistant minister at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland.
As the march drew to a close, I chatted with two women who consented to being interviewed, but did not want their names used.
One, from Milwaukie, said she came to the march because she is terrified about what the next four years will be like and said if we don't exercise our right to protest, we'll lose it.
The second woman, a Southeast Portland resident, said that progressives in Portland feel safe protesting, but we should all realize that we are marching "for those who live in places where they can't afford to speak out."
She added, "The people here are inspiring. It would have been a personal tragedy for me to stay home in despair."
The 100,000 people who participated in Saturday's march in Portland were part of hundreds of simultaneous marches in the country and another 60 marches in 40 countries involving millions of people. On Friday, people packed Pioneer Courthouse Square for an Inauguration Day protest, and on Sunday members of Portland's faith community came together for a silent march in protest of racism, xenophobia and bigotry.
"There is a lot to fight for, and we're just in fighting for it, in both a human and moral sense," said Milwaukie resident Anthony Dryer, 35.
While taking the Orange Line to the Friday protest downtown, Dryer was joined by Gregory Alexander, an 18-year-old Sellwood resident also excited to show his support for women's rights and addressing climate change.
"Being African American, it really inspired me that I could do anything, so it's really hard to go from Obama to Trump," said Alexander, who said he voted for Hillary Clinton in the first election in which he could participate.
"I don't think a whole bunch of men in their 60s should be able to tell women what to do with their bodies. We should all support people who could be affected by these bad policies."
News Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this report.