More than 300 Del Norte County residents joined millions of others across the U.S. last weekend in the second-annual Women’s March.
Starting from Crescent Elk Middle School on Saturday, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, men and children marched for women’s rights. They protested violence against women, organizers referencing the #MeToo movement and asking those who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault to raise their hands.
They demanded equal pay for women, including women of color, indigenous women, caregivers and disabled women; access to safe, legal and affordable healthcare; and the right to labor protections for domestic farm workers, undocumented workers and migrant workers.
Susan Masten, former vice chair for the Yurok Tribal Council, pointed out that one out of three indigenous women will be raped — two-and-a-half times that of any other woman. Non-natives perpetrate 70 percent of those rapes, Masten said, and they are rarely prosecuted.
But the goal of the local march was simple: To get more women to run for public office. To get women to help other women run for public office. And to get women to vote.
“This is a year of midterm elections and the latest data from Rutgers University estimates that 604 women will be on the ballot come November,” said Susan Daugherty, who emceed the rally that preceded the march. “Maybe it’s time for you to be one of those women or maybe it’s time for you to help another woman, a progressive, be on the ballot. We have 152 in the November election, positions open on various boards in this county. Take a look at those. See who you want to support. See if there’s something you might be interested in. Look on a local level and find a place where you can make a difference.”
Daugherty thanked the organizers for the National Women’s March for their outreach on social media. The official Women’s March 2018 was held in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday with the tagline “Power to the Polls” and “Hear Our Vote.”
“Those are some pretty powerful messages,” Daugherty said. “That’s the way we make change.”
Under the watchful eye of the Crescent City Police Department, between 250 and 400 people participated in Saturday’s march, according to organizer Denise Doyle-Schnacker. Crescent City marchers joined others nationwide including 200,000 protesters in New York City on Saturday, 600,000 in Los Angeles and 300,000 in Chicago, the New York Times reported.
Crescent City resident Floy Williams said her sister marched in Washington D.C. last year and participated in the protest in Philadelphia.
“I told her if there’s one in Crescent City I’ll do it,” Williams said.
Saturday’s protest also drew women involved in the Del Norte County Republican Central Committee. Angela Greenough, Karen Sanders and Charlotte Svolos wore signs reading “Peace begins in the womb” and held signs calling for “Dignity for All.”
Greenough, who is a member on the Del Norte County Unified School District Board of Trustees, said she was initially scared about participating in the march, but the organizers did an excellent job of being inclusive.
“I think people were surprised because they do know us from the central committee,” Greenough said. “We agree that we need to end violence against women. We need to have equal pay for equal work. We need to have health care for women. We agree. How we get there...”
Svolos said though she is a Republican she also agrees that public officials need to be held accountable if they “are not acting correctly to women.”
“We don’t care whose alphabet soup is after your name,” Svolos said. “If you are not acting correctly to women, you shouldn’t be in office. Our response shouldn’t be no we need to keep them there, it should be who do we run who has the same values but is going to have that dignity?”
Lynda Mealue was a visual reference to the march’s goal of getting more women to vote. Dressed as a suffragette, complete with a sash across her shoulders reading 20th Amendment #TimesUp, she said she was there to remind people to vote.
“It’s almost been 100 years since women got the vote and more people need to vote,” she said. “Everybody that can vote, everybody that’s 18, should be voting.”
Another protester, Dan Daines, said voting is the only non-violent way to have a revolution.
“John F. Kennedy said those who make non-violent revolution impossible make a violent revolution inevitable,” Daines said. “The suffragettes and the power of women (need) to be the voice of those values that we need and us men need to listen to them. Us men need to follow the wisdom of the women because they see the world from a whole different perspective.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .