PORT TOWNSEND — Nearly 4,000 women, men, and children joined in the 2018 Women’s March in Port Townsend on Saturday.
The Women’s March PT Steering Committee and the Human Rights Alliance North Sound hosted the event on the first anniversary of the original march.
A colorful and boisterous crowd gathered peacefully at Quimper Mercantile on Water Street and walked five blocks to Pope Marine Park to hear speeches given by several local and regional dignitaries and groups.
Pink hats were en vogue, as were signs, placards and other forms of expression.
Zhaleh Almaee from the Mandala Center for Change acted as mistress of ceremonies for the event. She began by talking about the 19th Amendment and the women who began the women’s rights movement: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, among many others.
“They came together, just like we are, to raise our voices, to look oppression in the face, and to be unafraid to do something about it. They united their hearts and they came together to make a difference, ” Almaee said.
“We’re here today to make a difference, We’re already making a difference. And this is only the beginning.”
City Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval read Mayor Deborah Stinson’s proclamation naming Saturday, Jan. 21, 2018 as Women’s March Day.
“The City of Port Townsend has a history of inclusiveness and non-discrimination, affirming our city as a welcoming city,” Sandoval said.
Said march organizer Emelia de Souza to those gathered: “This is for you. The 21st century is the century of women. We are the heart of culture and we are the flower of peace.
“We are the wind of change — the hurricane — that will change the face of this nation,” she continued. “Today we march, tomorrow we get involved and in November we grab them by their mid-terms.”
Mary Jane Robins, who staffs Rep. Derek Kilmer’s office in Port Angeles, spoke on behalf of the 6th Congressional District representative who, she said, was with the group in spirit.
“We are speaking for some basic truths,” Robins said, reading his comments, “that bigotry is wrong, that harassment of women is wrong, that racism is wrong.
“And given that our president, Donald Trump, has failed to publically back these basic truths, I have sponsored a bill that will formally censure him.
“We need to make it clear that he does not speak for all Americans.”
A variety of elected officials were on stage. Among them were Rep. Mike Chapman, D- Port Angeles, and Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, both of whom represent the 24th District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.
Libby Palmer, representing the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates, made a plea for participation.
“We want to keep ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] out of this town. Keep Border Patrol out of this town. If you see an incident call hotline 360-531-2656,” she said.
One of the founders of Yes! Magazine, Sarah van Gelder said, “The number of people who are vulnerable is wide and broad and we have to stand up for one another.
“We will not allow our planet to be destroyed,” she continued. “We will not allow nuclear war to become an option. We won’t let the toxic divide continue to grow.
“The revolution starts where we live.”
Carmen Chaves of the Desert People spoke on behalf of missing and murdered indigenous women.
She said,“56 percent of indigenous women will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes — highest rate of missing, murdered and sexually abused women of all the races in the U.S. and Canada.”
According to Sgt. Jason Greenspane, of the Port Townsend Police Department, the group was the largest assembled crowd he has seen in town.
“Just as the front of the group was getting to City Hall, the back the group was just beginning to march,” Greenspane said. “They were limited to one lane because of the construction for part of the way.
“But people were well-behaved and came up to us, thanking us for being there.”
The only disturbance during the rally was a thrown egg.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I was covered,” said Carol Baker of Port Townsend. “I was in the middle of the crowd and it hit me in the chest.
“It’s so discouraging. It’s so uplifting to be in the crowd but then to realize that there are people who want to cause trouble.
“It’s also scary. “
Mary Farley of Sequim, who was visiting with her daughter from Bothell, said: “The feeling of camaraderie with all these people knowing that everyone is of like mind — it’s a very powerful feeling. Makes you feel you’re not alone in this.”
Karen Sullivan from Port Townsend was excited to be at the march.
“This is the way you keep democracy from breaking. By putting yourself out here.”
Said Anna Quinn of Port Townsend: “I’m here for equality and I really believe that the more voices that speak out for equality the stronger we’ll be. We need to tell all our stories.”
The North Olympic Peninsula also was represented at the Seattle march. According to organizer Debbi Steele, three buses carrying 145 marchers left in the early morning.
“What I’m hoping what we will accomplish today is letting the nation know that we’re still here, we’re still anxious to change the administration and that we’re a force to be reckoned with, ” Steele said.
Jeannie McMacken is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend.