Carrying signs declaring “I Am A Woman,” “Standing Our Ground for Humanity,” “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” and “Misters for Sisters," among other personal and political statements, more than 150 local women, men and children participated in the Moab Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21. The event was organized as a “sister march” to the Women’s March on Washington, which occurred the same day.
The Moab Women’s March was one of seven marches held in Utah. Events in Ogden, Salt Lake City, Park City, Kanab, St. George and Bluff were also registered on the national Women’s March website, which estimated that 4 million people participated in the events held around the world. According to The New York Times and other national news outlets, at least 470,000 people attended the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21.
In Salt Lake City, more than 6,000 attended a Women’s March demonstration on Monday, Jan. 23, which coincided with the first day of business for the Utah Legislature.
March participants gathered at Swanny Park at 10:30 a.m., with many carrying signs and some wearing pink hats. The pink hats were symbols to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump and his treatment of women, said Moab participant Bruni Mason, who knitted hats for herself and several friends.
The hats were “a visual way to call attention to a lot of women’s issues that have been going on for a long time in this country, and are still going on but are even more under fire under Trump,” said Moab City Council member Rani Derasary, who participated in the march. Those women’s issues, she said, include healthcare issues, reproductive rights and LGBT issues, among others.
Many demonstrators referenced Trump’s deragatory comments about women. Others held signs bearing a variety of messages, declaring support for anti-racism, climate change mitigation and immigrant and gay rights.
“We’re marching for solidarity with all the people the present administration has insulted,” said Donnarae Aiello of Castle Valley.
March participants walked from Swanny City Park and down 100 West to Center Street, chanting, “this is what democracy looks like,” and voicing demands for human rights. The group stopped at Sun Court, where organizers and participants spoke to the crowd, read poems, sang songs, and in one case, performed a dance.
“I feel like it’s really important, especially in rural Utah, to make our voice known and make our presence known and to tell this community and also the world that Moab rejects racism and sexism and all that Trump stands for,” said participant Sarah Stock.
Emily Niehaus, founder of Community Rebuilds, spoke to the crowd about her concerns for the future of the organization, which relies on resources provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency. Niehaus quoted former President Barack Obama’s farewell address.
“If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing,” she said. The crowd responded, chanting, “Yes we can.”
Several speakers appealed for people to call, email and write their congressional representatives. Others stressed the importance of staying involved in local politics, getting young people registered to vote and listening to those who have differening views.
“I really hope you leave with that feeling, that you have power, that you have community and support,” said Serah Mead of Moab. “Just look around!”
When asked for his perspective on the Moab Women’s March, Grand County Republican Party chairman Curtis Wells said Republican wins in the presidential, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate elections had “nothing to do with racial and gender issues [but] are a symbol of people fatigued with a continuously failing economy, political correctness, over-regulation, mis-prioritization when it comes to America’s interests and failed liberal policy accompaniment.”
“While marches and protests are respected and welcomed, the recent protests are a microcosm of why democratic controlled seats have been on a steady decline since 2008,” Wells said. “Democrats have grafted themselves to emotionally driven political narratives that have led to their inability to deliver sensible and deserving policy to the working families of America.”
The event was organized informally by a group of local residents, according to participant Sem Jumper.
“One person took on making a website for it, another person took on speaking about it on KZMU and I decided to take flyers and put them out,” Jumper said. “We were all leaders and there wasn’t one person who was running it ... I think that’s very powerful because it shows that this whole community is invested.”