Calling for justice for all, marchers convened in downtown Missoula on Saturday to send a message of female empowerment and unity, and to warn political leaders that the midterm election isn’t far away.
Several thousand people, many clad in pink, crowded the streets to dance and sing before descending on Caras Park to celebrate the second annual Women’s March. It was easily the largest activist crowd Missoula has seen in recent times.
“Revolution loves company,” proclaimed Erin Erickson, founder of Missoula Rises and one of the event’s organizers. “There is no greater threat to the critics, cynics and fear mongers than those of us who are willing to fall.”
The march in Missoula was one of several held Saturday across Montana, as well as other U.S. cities and abroad. The combined force gathered to face a president they deem as divisive, and a Republican congressional majority they contend has placed profits over people and corporations over the environment.
As Lauren Small Rodriguez put it, women were the first environment, carrying their babies in water. An American Indian, she introduced herself in her native language.
“Do they know more than we do?” she asked, receiving a resounding “No” from the crowd. “Do they know what’s best for our bodies? Do they know what’s best for our children? This is still the reality we face in 2018. Why are we still voting for a president who devalues women?”
Saturday’s march followed the inaugural event held one year ago this weekend – itself fired as a warning shot across the bow of an unpopular president whose narcissistic politics and ugly statements have further divided the country.
Earlier in the day, Rebecca Weston led a coalition of women to launch the #metoomontana movement. Among its many aims, it’s asking the state’s congressional leaders to confront the president regarding allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
“Our goal is to show Steve Daines, Greg Gianforte, Jon Tester and (Montana) Senate President Scott Sales that women will not tolerate being shamed or silenced on issues related to sexual violence,” Weston said. “We demand that they speak up and take action on behalf of women in our state.”
On the stage in Caras Park, Weston told women in the crowd that while their struggle won’t be easy, they won’t be left to fight the fight alone. Several hundred men also attended Saturday’s event.
“The stars are brighter when the skies are darkest,” she said.
Event coordinators billed the gathering as a show of intersectional feminism, and the hundreds of protest signs on display drove their point home. They called for the protection of Dreamers and the environment. They took shots at the nation’s patriarchal society while defending truth and a free press. And they lampooned President Donald Trump.
One signed read, “Grab ’em in the midterms,” a reference to Trump’s “Grab ’em in the pussy” statement recorded by Access Hollywood. Most in the crowd wanted accountability, both in the White House and in Congress.
“This is so exciting, so necessary and so powerful, and it’s time,” said Kali Lindner. “Women by nature are collaborators, and it’s going to take collaborators to make this next change happen. We’re going to march side by side, we’re going to dance side by side, and we’re going to share our stories side by side so we can rewrite this story.
“You and me together are going to be the instigators,” she told the crowd.