Jan. 21, 2017

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UUP joins more than a half-million in Women’s March

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More than 500 UUP members joined the more than 500,000 participants who took to the streets Jan. 21 for the Women’s March on Washington, waving colorful—and sometimes colorfully worded—signs, chanting for positive change and against Donald Trump—and bringing the nation’s capital to a halt in the process.

The march, which drew more than three times as many people as Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, was easily the largest protest against a newly inaugurated president in the country’s history.

“It’s clear there’s a real need to be part of something big, to express our opposition to an extremist, minority government,” UUP President Fred Kowal said. “The two things I see are determination and enthusiasm.” He vowed that the union will plan ways to capitalize on the momentum of the march.

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UUP Secretary Eileen Landy, above, wore one of the ubiquitous pink “pussy hats” with knitted ears sported by so many women and men at the event in response to Trump’s assertion in a 2005 video that surfaced during the campaign that it was easy for him to grab women by the genitals because he was a celebrity.

Landy predicted that demonstrators “are going to come out of here encouraged, mobilized and looking for the next way to get involved.”

Unity & enthusiam

UUP had signed on as a partner with the Women’s March early in its organization, which began as a two-woman effort and exponentially grew in the nearly eight weeks since the presidential election.

The main Albany-area UUP delegation, led by Kowal, Landy, Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud and Membership Development officer Tom Hoey, began its grueling but exhilarating 24-hour round-trip journey shortly after midnight Saturday by bus. Elsewhere around the state, hundreds of other members traveled by bus, train and automobile. Everything converged on a metropolitan region around the nation’s capital at daybreak Saturday, as transportation officials scrambled to add extra trains and train cars to accommodate the patient but swelling crowds pouring into the city.

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UUP members at a MARC commuter train stop in Baltimore crammed into an already full 8:45 a.m. train that brought them from Baltimore to Union Station, just blocks from the rally at 3rd St. SE and Independence Avenue. But protesters were everywhere, and spontaneous—but peaceful—protests and marches broke out in front of the Capitol, on Independence and Constitution avenues, and across the National Mall.

Trump ignores throngs outside his door

Blackman-Stroud said she was thrilled to see the unity of the march, and Hoey predicted that while Trump would almost certainly ignore the message of more than a half-million demonstrators in the capital, “the rest of the people in the country will see it.”

Indeed, Trump fled Washington Jan. 21 at the height of the march without commenting on it, for a visit to Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia. There, he delivered a bizarrely disjointed address in which he touted his own intellect and spent more time railing about the media than in giving attention to the nation’s intelligence officers, whom he recently likened to Nazis. The next day, he delivered by Twitter the inane speculation that the people who marched had not voted.

Solidarity around the country and the world

The D.C. march was the largest of more than 300 Jan. 21 demonstrations against Trump around the U.S., and one of hundreds of solidarity protests held in other countries. It is believed that the number of U.S. demonstrators easily topped 1.2 million.

Organizers and authorities reported that crowds vastly exceeded expectations not only in D.C., where the original estimate was 200,000, but the turnout was more than double that figure, but in many other cities as well. More than 400,000 demonstrators marched through midtown Manhattan. The march in Chicago was canceled for safety reasons when an estimated 250,000 demonstrators overwhelmed the downtown streets, so that event became a rally instead of a march. In Austin, Tex., news organizations reported that organizers ran out of the 30,000 stickers they had prepared to give to participants as a way of counting the turnout.

But the day was notable for its peaceful atmosphere, and no major injuries were reported anywhere.

Additional coverage of the march will appear in the forthcoming issue of The Voice. Watch UUP's website for mobilization strategies that will continue what started with the Women’s March.

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