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Women’s March draws thousands with call for change

Dance+company+Nefertiti%E2%80%99s+Dozen%2C+performed+on+stage+pre-march+and+rang+in+the+end+of+it+with+just+as+much+energy.+Women%E2%80%99s+March+on+Chico+Saturday%2C+Jan.+20%2C+2018.
Dance company Nefertiti’s Dozen, performed on stage pre-march and rang in the end of it with just as much energy. Women’s March on Chico Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Dance company Nefertiti’s Dozen, performed on stage pre-march and rang in the end of it with just as much energy. Women’s March on Chico Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Dance company Nefertiti’s Dozen, performed on stage pre-march and rang in the end of it with just as much energy. Women’s March on Chico Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

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Thousands gathered and marched in downtown Chico Saturday in the 2018 Women’s March.

This march was one of many across the world. One year after the first Women’s March drew hundreds of thousands of participants nationwide in response to the presidential inauguration.

According to a Facebook event created to invite participants, over 3,000 were either interested in or attended the event. Iraya Robles was one of the organizers of the event, and stated that the march was almost entirely coordinated by grassroots groups with permission from the City of Chico.

The march began with people gathering in the downtown plaza at 9 a.m. Organizations such as Mobilize Chico, GSEC, Catalyst Domestic Violence Services and Chico Area Interfaith Council presented their goals and made opening statements. The Stonewall Alliance and the Chico Peace and Justice Center also helped set up the march.

Participants of all ages, from infants to elderly, filled the square to hear opening statements and to prepare to march. Some said they came to protest the president.

“I don’t like our president, and I don’t like the people that support him or the things that are going on,” Pam Moyer, a retired teacher, said.

Others said they came to support the unity of women for change.

“I’m here because I think it’s really important that the women get together and I think it’s going to be the women that make things happen, and make the nation move towards changes,” Anna Roland, a retired professional, said.

After opening statements, from 10:40 a.m. until 11:10 a.m., participants marched through downtown Chico from the blocks of Flume to Main to Broadway before finishing back where they started in the downtown city plaza.

Participants carried handmade signs and banners and chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” “Black lives matter,” and “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” Nearby residents along the route of the march decorated front porches and shouted chants in support.

After the march concluded, various speakers began at 12 p.m to make different statements, perform dances and to sing songs until about 3:30 p.m.

This year’s march focused on people’s political opinions after a year many saw as full of political upheaval. Many organizers in the plaza shared their perspective of what the annual march has come to represent to them in the current political climate.

Mobilize Chico, now a network of various groups, was one organization that formed after the first march and the last presidential election.

“After the election…we were just feeling despair and fear and sadness,” Moblize Chico member Kate McCarthy said. “And after coming together to cope we realized that the only thing that would make us feel better would be to organize.”

Anna Moore, another founder of Mobilize Chico, added that this year’s theme was all about political action.

“Last year was about getting together and listening to our community,” Moore said, “This year is about continuing to listen…and getting the vote out, working to get people in office who care about the safety and well-being of everyone in the community.”

Seve Christian, a student volunteering for GSEC at the event, said he was curious to see if more or fewer people would attend this march, a year after the presidential election.

“Our director began mobilizing (to join the march) right after Donald Trump was elected,” Christian said. “It was a really quick mobilization, and we’re glad to be back here this year.”

According to David Welch, chairperson for the Democratic Action Club of Chico (DACC), a forum will be held on Tuesday for the four Democratic candidates running for Congress. He described this year’s march as an example of mobilizing efforts for change and awareness for policial action in the upcoming elections.

“Last year we had a great outpouring of anger in reaction to Trump’s election, and this year we’re seeing that being translated into real organizing and real politics, in people running for office and people organizing to support (them),” Welch said.

“A year ago I wondered would this passion last and could this be translated into real action to change things, and that’s what we’re seeing here today.”

Natalie Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or @NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.

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Women’s March draws thousands with call for change