“Everything we did led to that,” said Caitlin Breedlove, deputy executive director of organizational progress for the Women’s March. “We are not just resisting. In fact, we are fighting for what we need to build. “
The march took place days before the Senate held its first vote to confirm Barrett to replace the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal leader and feminist icon. The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to vote Thursday on Barrett’s nomination, which will strengthen the Conservative advantage in court. The Republican majority is expected to approve the nomination.
Among the protesters, dressed in bright pink hats and face masks with jewelry, 7-year-old twins Harriet and Miles Gilliam from Boston sat stoically next to their mother. Harriet, dressed as Ginsberg, complete with a lace collar, took part in her third women’s march. Miles was dressed in a suit and held a sign similar to the one held by the late John Lewis (D-Ga.) In his iconic 1961 cup, made after he was arrested for using a bathroom reserved for white people in Mississippi.
“You can use social media as much as you want, but there’s something to be said for showing,” said Justina Gilliam, 40, who said she attended every women’s march in Washington.
This year’s event is as urgent as the first, she said. “There is despair.”
A group of a dozen women dressed as maids, in red dresses and white bonnets, lined up with signs hanging around their necks with the words “Trump Pence NOW!”
The costumes were a reference to Barrett’s leadership role in the Christian group People of Praise, a position that was called “Maid” until 2017, when “The Handmaid’s Tale”, a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, was adapted for television and the term was associated with women subordinated to men.
A few feet away, Kelsey Weir, a 29-year-old artist from southern New Jersey, held a sign reading “WAP: Women Against the Patriarchate.”
Weir said she was horrified by the years ahead, especially with Barrett in the Supreme Court. She felt that it was her duty as a citizen to march. “Women are threatened in a world where the Christian theocracy is threatening to take power,” she said, referring to women in official suits. “This is a crisis for our world. The next few weeks will decide so many things for women. “
Protesters plan to wrap themselves around the US Capitol and end the Mall march, where a small group of protesters will take part in a text event to call on women across the country to vote. Thousands of women’s march volunteers have already sent text messages to more than 4 million women voters and aim to send 5 million texts in one day on Saturday, according to the group.
At the same time, a counter-protest organized by a conservative women’s organization will take place in the Supreme Court. A “I’m with her” rally in support of Barrett and organized by the Independent Women’s Forum is scheduled for 1 p.m. to send the message that the participants in the Women’s March “don’t talk about all women.” The counter-protest is expected to be smaller than the women’s march.
Several streets in DC have banned parking, while others closed Saturday for events that began at 11 a.m. and are expected to end around 5 p.m.
Every year since women in pink hats flooded the country’s capital the day after President Trump took office in 2017, the Women’s March has organized marches in January across the country, promoting a list of political demands and helping motivate women to run in record numbers. But the marches in recent years have attracted much smaller crowds than the first historical show. Sometimes the national organization struggles to stay relevant, as dozens of initial participants have shifted their focus to other causes.
At the women’s last march in January, some attendees said they hoped they would not have to march again after the 2020 elections.
But last month, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death restarted the country,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.
The group’s organizers quickly planned hundreds of marches, both virtual and personal, focusing mainly on voting rights and the Supreme Court’s confirmation process.
“We didn’t want to drain any energy from the election process,” Breedlove said. “In fact, we wanted to help harness the power of the women we work with.”
The march comes amid an economic recession that has hit black women and mothers particularly hard, a Supreme Court nomination that many fear threatens women’s reproductive rights, and presidential elections that can largely be decided by women. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 23-point lead over Trump among likely voters (59% to 36%), according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey. Meanwhile, Trump and Biden divide men by 48 percent each.
The gender gap is even greater in the suburbs, where women prefer Biden by 62 to 34 percent, according to the poll. Men in the suburbs lean toward Trump, with 54 percent supporting his re-election and 43 percent supporting Biden.
The initial women’s march took to the streets dozens of these suburban women, including many who had never attended a protest before. But concerns about coronavirus cases, which are rising again in many states, could lead to much lower turnout this year, especially given the relatively older demographic base of the Women’s March base.
The average age of those who attended the first women’s March in 2017 was 43, according to Dana R. Fisher, a professor at the University of Maryland who studies protest movements. Meanwhile, the average age of Black Lives Matter protests in the summer was more than 10 years younger.
Women’s march leaders say they are hoping for a smaller crowd in the District due to fears of social distancing. Unlike in previous years, organizers discourage participants from traveling to DC from countries that are on the self-quarantine list and do not participate in organizing buses from other cities. Instead, they encourage supporters to attend local marches or join his text-a-thon efforts, O’Leary Carmona said. The DC LED screens will be located around the area to encourage wearing masks and social distancing.
Women marching on Saturday focused almost mainly on President Trump’s out-of-office vote. But even if Biden wins the election, the organizers of the Women’s March say they will continue to play a role in activating women to get involved in activism and politics.
“The need for this will not end after this election. . . because this is a correction that needs to happen in politics in the United States, ”Breedlove said. “There has to be an organization for women that says, ‘Come as you are. . . . There is a place for you. ”