The women’s march that drew 100,000 protesters to the State Capitol last year will be indoors and downsized this year. And that has some advocates miffed that they won’t be taking their message to the streets where the protest would be more visible.
“We need an actual march,” wrote Courtney Chesher of St. Paul in a post on the Women’s March Minnesota event page.
Agreed, said Cindy Schwemmer of Inver Grove Heights, who will march Saturday in Rochester with her daughter-in-law, 6-year-old granddaughter and 4-year-old grandson. Last year, she marched in Washington, D.C., in an event that “united us across the world.”
“I understand the weather is cold in Minnesota, but it didn’t stop anyone last year and it’s not stopping anyone Up North this year,” she said. An indoor rally doesn’t seem to sync with what the anniversary of the first march symbolized, Schwemmer added.
Women’s March Minnesota organizers planning Sunday’s St. Paul rally in the Union Depot say 2018 calls for new tactics, so they’re following the lead of national women’s march organizers, who are kicking off a national voter registration tour in Las Vegas rather than another march in Washington.
The St. Paul rally scheduled from 3:30 to 7 p.m. will include performances and speakers to celebrate the anniversary of the marches that popped up last year around the country and the world. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a show of opposition to President Donald Trump and perceived threats to undo progress for women, minorities, the environment and other policies put in place during the Obama administration.
Last year’s marches were a spectacular moment, said Alicia Donahue, Women’s March Minnesota co-founder and vice chairwoman. “All we had to do was stand up and say, ‘We’re here,’ and show up in numbers too great for the administration to ignore on its first day in office,” she said.
But a year later, their purpose and intent has to be different because of the 2018 elections in Minnesota, including races for governor, two U.S. Senate seats and U.S. congressional seats that organizers hope to hold onto or flip, Donahue said.
“We’re moving from a march to a movement that will harness our collective power as we go into a tide-shifting election year,” Donahue said. To do that, she said organizers will ask women to commit their time and money to make “real change.”
Those who attend the St. Paul event will need a ticket to get in, and that too has upset some posters on the event page because it might discourage people from attending.
Donahue said tickets, which range in price from $5 to $100, allow people to pay what they can afford while helping organizers recoup their expenses. But free tickets are also available. Last year’s march cost organizers $50,000. This year’s rally should cost “several thousand dollars less,” Donahue said.
Advance tickets are necessary because the fire code limits the Union Depot’s capacity to 2,500, she explained.
After posting her discontent on the events page, Chesher said a smaller indoor rally may have less impact than an outdoor march. Still, she wants to be involved in the movement and may attend the indoor rally if she doesn’t march in Rochester.
“The [Depot] will have a few musicians and there will be opportunities for drinks,” Chesher said. “But I don’t care about that. I want change.
“I’m looking for ways to be seen and heard to create equality and equity,” she added. “We have to be visible.”