Demonstrators raised their voices in response to pressing social issues, the importance of voting in the upcoming presidential election
Pershing Square was a melting pot on Saturday as demonstrators congregated to advocate for environmental justice, reproductive rights and other pressing social issues at the fourth annual Women’s March.
A crowd of more than 300,000 people assembled at Pershing Square in the morning and then marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles to City Hall. The event concluded with a two-hour program featuring several prominent speakers, including Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Karen Bass of Los Angeles.
Although the march drew a thinner crowd than in previous years, the messages on the participants’ signs remained as demanding. The demonstrators in Los Angeles were joined by similar rallies that took place in San Francisco, New York and other cities across the nation.
At 9 a.m., people began piling into Pershing Square from the escalators of the metro station. The crowd slowly grew until the official start of the march.
As participants waited for the march to begin, speakers took to the stage to discuss women’s rights and voting power in the upcoming presidential election.
“Young women should make sure that other young women go out to vote,” said State Senator Maria Elena Durazo. “Young women especially [because] there is so much at stake.”
The crowd began marching at 10:15 a.m., sending swarms of pink hats, flags and signs surging down the street to City Hall. To mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, some people wore early 20th century costumes. Others dressed as Lady Liberty and handmaidens from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Feminist pop culture references were plentiful at the march in the form of stickers, buttons and posters. Some included references to Star Wars saying, “A Woman’s Place is with the Resistance.” Others quoted Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” or Beyonce, who continues to be seen as a feminist icon.
“This march today shows the whole world that the people of America care about human rights, they care about women’s rights, they care about racial equality and they demand that our politicians embody those values into law,” said California Assemblymember Laura Friedman.
The march was a family affair. Children could be seen in the arms of mothers, on scooters or in strollers. One little girl held a sign that read, “Marching in 2020, Voting in 2030, Running in 2047.”
Christian Pine, a public school teacher, attended the march with his wife and two children.
“Our family is here because we want our kids to be proud of what they believe in and able to self advocate,” Pine said. “It makes me proud that they can communicate.”
While helping his daughter create her sign, Pine had to explain to her the meaning of persistence and the symbology of the glass ceiling.
The younger generation’s desire for change was evident at the march. High school senior Rosalie Ramirez, 18, attended the march as part of a field trip that was organized by one of her male teachers.
“I’m super grateful for my teacher,” Ramirez said. “He’s a man, and for him to come to me and ask me to organize this [trip] makes me feel better about the school I go to.”
Ramirez felt empowered to stand with fellow women, and said it is important for high school students like herself to show up and educate themselves on how to utilize their voting power because a lot of high school seniors don’t think voting is important.
Many participants took the opportunity to show support for the three women who are running for president in the Democratic primary. Others held banners in support for Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrtic candidates.
“A lot of young voters know that their futures are dependant on who is in office,” Friedman said.
Climate change activists also had a large presence at the march. Some signs called on President Trump to take more action on climate change.
Annie Croucier, a climate change activist, said environmental justice goes hand in hand with women’s rights.
“Women’s rights are being eroded, just like glaciers,” said Croucier. “Global warming is real, and if we don’t speak up, I don’t have faith that much will happen without us pushing the matter to the forefront.”
The march eventually converged at City Hall where people sang in circles, talked to one another and took pictures. Music filled Grand Park as performers like American idol winner Jordin Sparks and Grammy award-winner Seal took to the stage.
Some sat down to rest on the steps and benches of Grand Park as the words of various speakers floated over them, calling for change.
“It’s not what we say today, it’s what we do tomorrow,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garccetti.
While demonstrators congregated in Grand Park, anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Los Angeles State Park as part of the Walk for Life, a pro-life rally that took place simultaneously. “Part of equality is that you can choose,” Emily Guereca, president of the Women’s March Foundation in Los Angeles told ABC. “It’s when you’re not allowed to choose there is an issue.”
Updated on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7:58 p.m.
“Your” was changed to “you’re” in the following quote:
“It’s when you’re not allowed to choose there is an issue.”