Nearly 400 people walked down Fourth Street Saturday, joining millions worldwide who rallied together to show that women’s rights are human rights.

“I’m here because I love my wife,” said Randy Stadler, whose voice cracked when he added his wife died four months ago. “I want to show respect to her, who I know would’ve been to this. I want to show respect for my sister and my daughter, Brianna.”

La Grande’s march was one of hundreds that took place globally in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. Planned for the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, marchers aimed to draw attention to women’s rights, as well as other issues including civil rights, immigration and racial justice. Demonstrators packed the streets of several cities Saturday, from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles and Paris to Sydney.

While some denied this march was political, others said they were participating because of the newly-elected president.

“Thank you for coming and supporting human dignity,” Elle Hutchins, who along with Denise Stone planned the march in
La Grande, said to the crowd at Max Square. “You made this possible. When we work together, our voices cannot be silenced. You are already doing the hard work to make a civil society. You can see all the support around you.”

Hutchins said there were 400 different people with 400 different reasons for being at the march.

“Some were there to protest Trump,” Hutchins said. “Some were there supporting women’s rights. I personally wasn’t marching to protest Trump. It was about the idea that we live in a society where we can express our opinions. We can agree to disagree. It’s OK to express your opinion.”

Dave Wahler, who created the Facebook page and event page for the La Grande march, said the event was political for him.

“Officially, the women’s march was never supposed to be about Trump,” Wahler said. “For many of the individual marchers, though, myself included, it was. My vendetta against Trump has been well documented. I’m on file at The Observer in a letter to the editor challenging Trump to a boxing match.

That’s not true for all the marchers, though.

“Denise Stone, who was the first woman who suggested this march to Elle Hutchins, said she wanted to march for her sister, who survived breast cancer,” Wahler said. “Her reasons were (not political).”

Worldwide, many women came wearing pink, pointy-eared “pussyhats” to mock the new president at the marches, according to an Associated Press article. Plenty of men joined in, too, contributing to surprising numbers everywhere.

Turnout in the capital was so heavy that the designated march route alongside the National Mall was impassable, according to the article. Protesters were told to make their way to the Ellipse near the White House by way of other streets, triggering a chaotic scene that snarled downtown Washington traffic.

“We come here together to say in a unified voice, ‘Not this time,’” Wahler said at Max Square. “I bid you to keep standing together.”

The number of marchers was amazing, Wahler said after the event.

“I was expecting 20 to 30 people,” he said.

Hutchins said she was expecting only a few of her friends to show up.

“I think it means a lot,” she said. “Different groups are being represented. People are scared and upset.”

Wahler said the march was meant to show those groups they’re not alone.

“We’ve been hearing scary rumblings during this election cycle, including racist comments,” Wahler said. “ We want to show people, show the women in La Grande, that we don’t intend to stay silent.”

Hutchins agreed.

“This community is a fantastic community because there is space for all of us to disagree,” Hutchins said. “This march was about bringing people together who are struggling in one way or another. We all wanted to show that there was more than just one voice.”

Contact Cherise Kaechele at 541-786-4234 or ckaechele@lagrandeobserver.com . Follow Cherise on Twitter
@lgoKaechele.

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