Women’s March floods streets of Spokane, draws thousands more than expected

By Logan Stanley, Staff Reporter

Nationwide, marches sprang up the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, drummed up to the support of women’s rights. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, what started out as a small gathering of friends snowballed into an event of epic magnitude. Teresa Shook, the Hawaii resident who was the creator of the march, began the idea as her response to the 2016 election cycle and her displeasure with it. She initially only invited 40 of her Facebook acquaintances to a March on Washington.

That number would soon rise, and rise and rise, soon becoming a national movement. On the day of the march, some 233,000 people had checked in as “went” to the march on Facebook. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of participants in today’s marches but data compiled from the Washington DC Metro system draws a rough estimate:

On 1/21/17: As of 11 a.m., Metro ridership was 275,000.

In comparison, the day before: As of 11 a.m., Metro ridership was 191,000.

The total D.C. turnout was estimated to be 500,000. In Seattle, the march spanned three miles long, causing traffic delays. Organizers guessed the crowd to be around 100,000. The considerable crowds were a common trend across America.

At the Spokane Women’s March, the police department estimated the crowd to be at 7,000 people. The Spokane Convention Center reached its filling capacity within the hour of the event beginning, which started at 11 a.m.

The march, which was organized by the Women’s March on Spokane Action Committee, was billed as “a 100% inclusive event, welcoming all genders, races, ages, religions, abilities, and sexual orientation” and was a response to the current political climate. The event began with a rally that featured several speakers, with presenters from the American Association of University for Women, the Native Community Project and Hope House.

Event organizers had partnered with Hope House, a shelter that supports women in crisis, for the march, setting up a donation system and providing awareness on the agency in a presentation. Additionally, there was a volunteer fair inside the center where individuals could check out different booths representing local organizations.

After the rally, marchers began their 0.75 mile loop through downtown Spokane. The march, which remained peaceful for its duration, featured scores of ‘delegations’ — groups that had attended the event in solidarity as a whole. One of those delegations was EWU’s very own, set up by Lisa Logan of the Women’s Studies Center. Logan is also a co-chair on the President’s Committee on Diversity.

Carrying a red banner bearing the EWU logo, EWU’s delegation marched in solidarity with the other protestors. Chants such as “love trumps hate” echoed throughout the streets of Spokane. Signs were aplenty. Some proclaiming messages of love and unity. Some messages that offered a more NSFW message. The sentiment was clear though: it is a frightening time to some individuals. For individuals like EWU sophomore Makenzie Ley, the reasoning for attending the event was simple.

“It’s a really crucial time to be out here right now,” said Ley. “I think everyone in the country is a little afraid. I fear what he represents … just the things he’s said about so many groups and minorities and women in the past. I fear that it’s going to make other people across the country  feel that it’s okay to attack groups like that.”

That sentiment of fear was not uncommon.

“Hatred. Bigotry. I have a lot of fear being Hispanic, gay, married to a white man, I have everything against in me in every way,” said EWU graduate student Freddy Vega. “I fear [Trump’s administration] in every way possible.”

But for Vega, the day was not about causing chaos or wreaking havoc on the city. It was a day of peace, a day where all races could come together as one in their protest against the inequalities levied upon them.

“In solidarity, I stand with brothers and sisters in unity against bigotry, ostracism and hateful rhetoric,” said Vega. “I march not to protest our new president but rather to uphold rights of all Americans going forward.”