Estimated crowd of 30,000 marches Downtown, urges women to vote and seek office
Thousands of women — and some men — flooded Pittsburgh streets on Sunday denouncing President Trump and urging women to vote and run for political office.
They carried signs, tooted horns, sang and chanted in a march from Grant Street to Market Square. It was the second straight January that females gathered in Pittsburgh to advocate for women’s rights.
“Last year’s march was an upwelling,” said Tracy Baton of Regent Square, director of the Women’s March on Washington – Pittsburgh. “An amazing number of people came out around a broad number of ways in which they wanted to restore American democracy and protect the values that they really cared about. This year we want to take all of the energy and all of the direction and help teach people how to take that power to the polls and change elections so we can change this country.”
People across the world over the weekend marched in protest of Trump’s policies and in support of voter registration and the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment.
The president tweeted Saturday as women marched in Washington that they were celebrating his economic policies, but marchers in Pittsburgh were definitely anti-Trump.
“I’m a Christian and I’m a veteran,” said Jennifer Bond, 58, of Shaler, who carried a sign that read “Christ is a Liberal.” “Donald Trump has systematically undermined everything that has protected us.”
That was one of the kindest things said about Trump.
Marchers carried signs criticizing the president on everything from his stances on abortion to immigration and LGBT rights.
“We’re planting the seeds of a grass roots resistance that will restore America’s grasp on progress,” said Morgan Hawkins Drain, 32, of Swissvale, a member of the march planning committee. “Let’s let Donald Trump know that his hateful rhetoric will not be tolerated.”
Organizers estimated the crowd size at 30,000. Last year’s march drew 25,000, according to estimates at the time.
The rally started at the City-County Building on Grant Street with speeches by organizers, activists and male and female political candidates.
“I am a woman who grew up with a black father and a white mother,” said Aryanna Berringer of Murrysville, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor. “I went to war, I joined my union, I went to college and I worked my butt off. I’m a woman and I’m damn proud of it.”
Many in the crowd wore pink caps and were accompanied by young children. Some brought their dogs.
Penn Hills veterinarian Kristen Thornton brought Addy, a mixed-breed Dachshund. Addy wore a “Dogs Against Trump” button.
“I’m here because Trump is causing a lot of problems,” Thornton said. “It’s sad that we have to be here.”
The crowd filled Market Square, where speakers urged people to register to vote and lobby for a fair system of redistricting political boundaries.
Will Anderson of Homewood, a member of Fair Districts Pa., a statewide organization advotating for redistricting reform, said Democrats and Republicans have drawn boundaries that favor one party over another in voter registration.
He said gerrymandering disenfranchizes voters “by illegally redrawing your districts so they don’t have to depend on your vote.”
Sequoia Van Camp, 22, of Kittanning, one of a handful of men in the crowd, carried a sign that read “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”
“It’s time to stand up and change a problem we’ve had in this society for a very long time: the systematic oppression of women,” he said.
Marchers said time will tell if the rally and others happening across the country will motivate women to vote.
“We’ll see come Election Day,” said Susan Kimelman of Squirrel Hill. “That’s where it counts.”
Pennsylvania voters will next cast ballots in a primary election on May 15.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.