PORT TOWNSEND — Hundreds of Peninsula residents came to Port Townsend to march in one of the multitude of women’s marches that occurred across the state, county and globally in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the nation’s 45th president.
Port Townsend, with a population of just under 10,000, was flooded with roughly 300 protesters Saturday morning for the Womxn’s March — an event that organizers thought would draw 40 to 50 people.
“I was blown away by the number of people here,” said Emelia De Souza, one of the event organizers. “It was totally fantastic.”
People began gathering in Pope Marine Park just before 10 Saturday morning and shut down Water, Adams and Washington streets for the short march to Haller Fountain. The fountain itself had been decked out with a pink hat was a popular statement piece at marches across the U.S.
The march itself took less than an hour. Once at the fountain, people gathered to sing and listen to speakers, including U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
“It is important that you are here today to stand up and fight back,” Kilmer said when he addressed the crowd.
Kilmer told stories of women he’d met while working as a politician, including those who struggled to find affordable health care, immigrants and refugees seeking a better life in the U.S., tribal leaders who saw the effects of climate change and Muslim-Americans who felt unsafe practicing their religion.
“I’m here for all of those women, but I’m here for two women specifically, and their names are Sophie and Tess Kilmer, and they are my daughters,” Kilmer said.
“This is about fighting for a better future not only for my daughters, but also all Americans, so thank you.”
The march gathered people from across Jefferson County and beyond, including Clallam County.
Among them were groups from Sequim, including the Sequim Nasty Women and a group of young LGBTQ and transgender activists.
“A lot of people in our community can’t get out and speak, so those of us who can should,” said 17-year-old Logan Matlock of Sequim.
“Now more than ever, we need to make sure people are mobilizing,” said Fenrir Humphrey, also 17 and from Sequim.
The march brought together people of all ages.
Marcia Perlstein, an interviewer with KPTZ 91.9 FM, told the crowd she had been marching for civil rights since 1959, when she marched in Washington, D.C., in the Youth March for Integrated Schools.
“We made a difference then, and we will make a difference now,” Perlstein said.
In the front row while Perlstein spoke was 5-year-old Abby Kromm, who attended the march with her mother, Zoe Kromm of Sequim.
“I’m here for her future,” Zoe Kromm said. “I’m trying to raise a confident woman, and she deserves every right and it’s good for her to learn to stand up for herself.”
Aside from the roughly 300 people in Port Townsend, more than 250 North Olympic Peninsula residents boarded buses Saturday morning to head to Seattle, where the Women’s March grew to 100,000, according to The Seattle Times.
A smaller group of Peninsula residents flew to Washington, D.C., to participate in the march that started what is now a global movement.
Port Townsend Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval flew out with her husband and son along with several others from Port Townsend, including three college students who were sponsored by the community so they could participate.
The march in Washington, D.C., was estimated to have 500,000 participants, nearly double the original prediction, according to The Associated Press.
According to www.womensmarch.com, the official site for all of Saturday’s marches, 673 marches were organized worldwide, with an estimated 3,447,000 participants total.
Protests also were held Friday as Trump was sworn in to office.
In Port Townsend, about 200 people came out for a silent “Hold the Line” protest.
Protesters made a human chain stretching at one point from the Port Townsend Ferry Landing to Flagship Landing on the Water Street sidewalk.
“It seemed to be an easy way to get people together,” said “Hold the Line” organizer Mark Stevenson. “There will be a need for many more events over the next four years.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].