Another amazing turnout for what's said to be the biggest Women's March in the nation, though apparently somewhat short of last year's 750,000. Various numbers of participants were reported throughout the day, but eventually the count was announced as 700,000. There was a reported 328 different marches in the U.S. with a turnout of 300,000 in Chicago and over 200,000 in New York City. Other locations with marches included Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Seattle, Anchorage, Dallas, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, with international events occurring at such locations as Paris and Toronto.
Last year, a ceremony with the Tongva, L.A.'s first people, was supposed to open the day, but things went wrong. This year, however, it happened (and there were references to the Tongva by speakers in the ensuing rally). Near City Hall there were displays and presentations regarding Native American issues (more on this below).
Overall, issues concerning people of color (e.g., DACA and Black Lives Matter) were reflected on many signs, even if those carrying the messages weren't always people of color. However, there was controversy over the participation of actress Scarlett Johansson, who it is said, condones Israel's illegal settlements on the West Bank. (She has represented SodaStream, which has a factory in the occupied territory.) Thus, the Palestinian American Women's Association, et al pulled out of the event. Nevertheless, various speakers referred negatively to Israel vis-a-vis its handing of Palestine (and more than a few audience members reacted favorably to these remarks).
One presenter spoke of two young women of color that were victims of injustice in 2017, Nabra Hassanen and Ahed Tamimi. “Nabra Hassanen was a 17-year-old Black Muslim girl from northern Virginia. On June 18, 2017 while walking with friends to the mosque for early morning prayers, Nabra was abducted, beaten with a baseball bat, raped, murdered, and dumped in a nearby pond. Despite the brutality of the crime and the fact that Nabra was Black and visibly Muslim, Fairfax County police quickly dismissed the possibility that her death was a hate crime and instead classified it as road rage. . . .” She went on to describe the disturbingly-high lack of hate crime reporting by U.S. government and agencies, including the FBI.
“Ahed is a 16-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank. On December 19, 2017, after a viral video showed Ahed hitting two Israeli soldiers, Israeli forces raided her home in the middle of the night and arrested her. Even though Ahed, an unarmed child, was trying to make the soldiers leave her property because one of them had severally wounded her cousin. Israel charged her with 12 counts, has denied her bail, and is trying her in military court. Ahed is just one of the 200 Palestinian children held in Israeli military custody each month. The most common charge for children is stone-throwing, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years.
“According to the U.S. state department, Israeli military courts have a more than 99% conviction rate for Palestinian defendants. UNICEF reports that mistreatment in Israel's military detention system is widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.
“So Nabra and Ahed need you to march and to vote yes, but they also need you to advocate them. Nabra needs you to march into your state legislature's office and demand mandatory hate crime reporting, uniform hate crime reporting standards, and adequate training for law enforcement.
“Ahed needs you to march into your member of congress's office and demand that they sign on to HR4391, a bill that prevents U.S. assistance to Israel from being used to support the military detention, interrogation, or torture of Palestinian children.”
Some speakers touched on a wide variety of issues. Among them was Norbese Flint, a director at the Black Women for Wellness Action Project, which she described as: “a new 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to building the electoral and political power of Black women throughout California. Our sister organization [is] the Black Women for Wellness.”
She continued: “Voting, much like getting fit, it doesn't work if you only show up every two years or every fours years. You need to show up and work continuously.
“. . . We are not fighting for what we had, we are fighting for a bold and radical future. We are fighting that climate change is not a political pawn, but a mission we must solve. We are not fighting just for health care but health as a right not a privilege. We are fighting for a future where our girls don't need hashtags and #MeToos and #TimesUp because we have dismantled patriarchy and rape culture. We are fighting for a Madame President; we are fighting for free Black children; we are fighting for Muslims; we are fighting for the undocumented, we are fighting not just for us, for our children, but for the world we want to see. . . .”
Another early speaker talked about marching to honor Native land, marching for separation of church and state, marching for “immigrants no longer living in fear,” et al.
A variety of issues were also depicted in signs people carried. Quite a few depicted trump in unflattering ways, others imparted the importance of voting. Also, like last year, there were homages to Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia.
About four-to-six trump supporters occupied a street corner near City Hall (close to where Occupy L.A.'s meeting space had been) with protection of about a dozen police. They chanted slogans often associated with trump and talked over a bullhorn.
As noted, there was an area devoted to Indigenous issues (a large banner read “inclusive feminism—my humanity is your humanity“). Among the issues was “Free Red Fawn.” A medic at Standing Rock, Red Fawn was attacked and arrested in the fall 2016. She remains in federal prison with no chance for bail, facing as many as 10 years in prison. (More here: http://indi.com/freeredfawn
and here: https://www.facebook.com/FreeRedFawn
Meanwhile, at the San Francisco Women's March 2018, there was emphasis on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Supporters were asked to dress in red, and the issues were discussed during the rally. Some signs featured #MMIW.
Additional coverage: KPFK's Margaret Prescod interviews L.A. March organizer Deborah Agre (archived under January 23, 2018). https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/tracks
Indymedia coverage of other marches: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/01/21/18806080.php
(San Francisco) https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/01/20/18806047.php
(San Francisco) https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/01/20/18806045.php
(San Francisco) https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/01/21/18806063.php