One day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, millions of protesters across the United States and the world marched and rallied in protest. St. Paul Police estimate between 90,000-100,000 protesters attended the march from St. Paul College to the rally at the Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday.
Many wielded signs inscribed with messages like “Keep abortion safe and legal,” and “Keep your laws off my body.” And several thousand wore pink hats with cat ears — a nod to Planned Parenthood and the infamous leaked Trump video that many saw as advocating sexual assault on women.
Others, including several speakers at the march, talked of gender inequalities in the workplace and within government representation. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, for one, said now is the time to address pay disparities among the state’s women, and told the crowd that as a former executive for Planned Parenthood she sees protecting reproductive rights as a priority in Minnesota.
“We all march here for different reasons,” she told the crowd, which consisted of many different ages and ethnicities. “But I march here because I believe in economic equality.”
More than women’s rights
But women’s rights weren’t the only issue for protesters, who said they saw Trump’s policies as an attack on immigrant rights, gay and transgender rights, and racial equality.
“Today, I’m here because I’m a woman,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis. “But I’m also here because I’m a black woman, and I’m here because I’m a Muslim woman.”
Omar, a former refugee and the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker, told the crowd that everywhere in the world women are fighting for equal rights. But Omar said that fighting for equality also meant advocating for immigrants, people with different sexual orientations and identities, and those coming from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“I hope to give voice to all marginalized communities,” she said.
Minneapolis resident Christina Vang, who’s Hmong, said she marched for immigrant rights. Vang said she comes from a family of immigrants and refugees, and because of that, she doesn’t always feel welcome in the state — especially after Trump’s election. “My 8-year-old nephew told me that he didn’t think he looked American,” she said. “That was really heartbreaking to hear.”
Khadejia Norman, who carried a Black Lives Matter sign, said she was marching for racial equality that day. Norman moved to north Minneapolis from Pennsylvania last summer and said she was surprised to see the area lacked “access to resources and jobs.”
Solace and hope
But not all the messages of the day were fearful ones, and many speakers at the march sought to find solace and hope in the day’s record-setting turnout.
State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray reminded the crowd during her speech that there were no women politicians in the state just a little more than 50 years ago. Now, there are 64 women in the Minnesota statehouse, she said, and today, she’s serving as the state’s first immigrant senator. “Take a look around,” she said to the cheering crowd. “We are not outnumbered by men anymore.”