ABOVE PHOTO: Crowds of women listen to speakers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps at Saturday’s Women’s March. (Photo: Kala J.)
By Haven Daley and John Locher
LAS VEGAS — Thousands of people poured into a football stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, the anniversary of women’s marches around the world, to cap off a weekend of global demonstrations that participants hope will continue building momentum for equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment.
“This is a birthday party for a movement that has only begun to flex its power to change this democracy,” Anna Galland, the executive director of the progressive group moveon.org, told the boisterous crowd.
Following marches that drew huge crowds across the U.S. on Saturday, one year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, protesters gathered Sunday on multiple continents, including in London, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Buenos Aires.
The events culminated with the Las Vegas rally, which launched an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states such as Nevada in the U.S. midterm elections later this year, which could shift control of Congress. Organizers said they are planning future events in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.
Paula Beaty, 53, a tech worker from Durham, North Carolina, attended the Las Vegas rally wearing an outfit recalling the women’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. She cited the difference women made in helping Democrat Doug Jones upset conservative Republican Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama in December.
“For us it’s all about women’s rights and we’re seeing them be eroded with Trump in office,” Beaty said. “The women made a difference in Alabama and we’re hoping we can flip the House and Senate with the power of women.”
There was also a push for women to not just register as voters, but as candidates. Democratic Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, drew an immense cheer when she told the crowd she was running to be not only Idaho’s first female governor, but the first Native American woman to be governor in any state. She implored other women to join her in running for office.
“This is Idaho’s future. This is the future of America,” she said.
The demonstrations came at a time of reckoning for many men in Hollywood, the media and other industries as women speak out about sexual misconduct and inequity in general. Among the speakers in Las Vegas was singer and actress Cher.
“This is one of the worst times in our history and that’s why I honestly believe that women are going to be the ones that fix it,” Cher told the crowd. “Stay strong and remember if you don’t have a vote, you don’t have a voice.”
Those who took part in this year’s events said they were galvanized by an avalanche of political and gender issues over the past year, as well as the #MeToo movement, which has been credited with countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct.
Many of the marchers not only supported women’s rights, but also denounced Trump’s views on issues including immigration, abortion and LGBT rights. Demonstrators denounced Trump’s views with colorful signs and even saltier language.
Trump dismissed the suggestion that his presidency has been bad for women. He tweeted Saturday that it was a “perfect day” for women to march to celebrate the “economic success and wealth creation” of his first year in office.
“Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months,” the Republican wrote. “Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”
In Palm Beach, Florida, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, several hundred people marched Saturday carrying anti-Trump signs. A group of women wearing red cloaks and white hats like the characters in the book and television versions of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which imagines a future in which women’s rights have been strictly limited, walked in formation with their heads bowed.
In the British capital Sunday, demonstrators carried placards reading “We Are Powerful” and “Time’s Up” and chanted outside Prime Minister Theresa May’s office as they raised grievances ranging from workplace inequities to misogynistic abuse on social media.
“Today is a call for action to bring about change,” London protest co-organizer Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said. “This is so much more than Trump.’”
The London event drew thousands of people despite sleet and snow. Heavy rain fell on Paris protesters who gathered near the Eiffel Tower, which could have been a factor in the small number of participants compared to the U.S. marches on Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter if the weather is like this,” Maggie Kim, who was one of the more than
100 people who didn’t let the rain and cold deter them. “We’re still coming together, and we’re going to still fight against Trump and his agenda.”