Today’s Women’s Marches seem destined for history books, with half a million marchers in DC, 60,000 here in St. Paul, and hundreds of other marches around the country. As I walked to downtown St. Paul from the march, a man at a bus stop called out to me: “They shut down Michigan Avenue! Way to go, y’all!” If the whole world was watching, we gave them a picture of widespread resistance to the new regime.
Yesterday’s Resist from Day One march in Minneapolis was much smaller – maybe a couple of thousand people – and much louder. The Women’s March had more conversation than chants, as we marched less than half a mile from St. Paul College to the Capitol.
At Resist from Day One, competing chants sounded behind and in front of me. Some chants started with loud voices, some with megaphones. Before the afternoon ended, I was convinced that every single one of the 75 sponsor organizations brought its own megaphone, and I swear that most of them managed to end up right behind me, blasting my eardrums.
But that’s okay. Chanting makes for a lively demonstration, and encouraged me to keep moving around, escaping the megaphones and seeing more people (Hi, Paul, Dick, Pam, Terry, and everybody else I saw and missed seeing!) Police preceded us and blocked side streets as well, protecting marchers from traffic, or vice versa.
The Women’s March had police escorts, too, as well as added Metro Transit buses and trains. The sheer number of marchers overwhelmed all the systems, packing the buses and trains and backing up traffic on I-94 for more than a mile. When the march reached the Capitol and filled the space below the speaker’s stand, the crowd still stretched back all the way to the Cathedral. The speaker system was great – as I walked toward downtown after the 11:59 moment of silence, I could hear the singing and speakers for at least half a mile.
At Resist from Day One, a slow-moving rented truck at the head of the march carried speakers and a sound system. Marshals along the sides made sure sidewalks were clear for other people, and generally tried to keep an eye on everyone.
When we reached Franklin and Nicollet, we met up with the Resist the Black Snake march. They joined in with a drum circle, dancing buffalo, giant puppets, Aztec dancers, and burning sage. Great energy!
A six- or eight-foot-tall paper Trump-on-a-stick joined us there, along with a bicycle-powered Trump head-puppet with giant, clacking teeth. As we paused, chanted, and milled around, I heard a shout go up. Turning, I saw flames – the Trump-on-a-stick was ablaze. In about 50 years of demonstrations, that’s the first time I saw burning in effigy – didn’t last long enough for me to get a photo, as the paper quickly fell to the ground, leaving only smoke behind.
We kept on, heading downtown to the People’s Plaza at the Government Center. After three hours, I wasn’t interested in speeches, so I headed for the train to go home. Quite a few other marchers also waited on the platform, and then a dozen or so black-clad, masked marchers came down the track, chanting “Shut it down!” They didn’t – there was no further sign of them on the track as the train arrived and departed, on time.
Nobody tried to stall public transportation at today’s Minnesota Women’s March, but the sheer numbers of people did it anyway. The Star Tribune reported that organizers expected 20,000 people – no one expected this massive turnout. While Resist from Day One had energy and excitement, chanting and dancing and singing, and even dancing buffalo, the sheer numbers of people at the Minnesota Women’s March more than made up for its quieter tone. [UPDATE at 9:30 p.m. – police estimates say the crowd was 90-100,000! And the Star Tribune and my Facebook friends say that Ketzal Coatlicue dancers were there – I just missed them.]
Young and old, all colors and genders and kinds of people showed up for both marches. That unity in diversity gives me hope for solidarity and resistance over the next four years, and beyond.