Women’s March 2018: Indiana Voices United for ChangePosted on: February 4, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
Over 6,000 people attended the Women’s March in Indianapolis Saturday January 20, 2018. A wide array of different activist groups, nonprofit political organizations, Democratic candidates running for office, and other political organizations were represented at the march. These groups included the Indiana Democratic Party, Indy Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, Spencer Pride Community, Indivisible Indianapolis, Indivisible Grant County, ACLU of Indiana, Indiana Vote by Mail, and many others.
There were several speakers at the American Legion. Alex Penn, whom I know from Indivisible Indianapolis — one of the many nonpartisan, progressive political organizations that has gotten more prominent since Trump’s 2016 election — explained that her organization’s goal was empowering people to get engaged in politics. “Indivisible Indianapolis is a respectful, inclusive, progressive activist grassroots organization. We are dedicated to holding our own Indiana members of Congress and elected officials accountable for supporting our civil rights and economic values, at the local, state, and federal level,” Penn said. I asked a question that addressed a concern I’ve heard voiced by people of color about a lack of diversity in such progressive movements, including the Women’s March. (A woman of color I spoke to prior to the event went so far as to say she felt the Women’s March focused on “white women’s issues” as opposed to issues that all women are faced with.) In response, Penn explained that, yes, that is something they have witnessed before, but she feels that the solution isn’t to “sweep it under the rug” but to address it and get as many people engaged as possible. Regardless, there was a very diverse crowd present at the march, mainly white, but not closed minded to the issues people of color face.
As I observed the March and participated in voter registration, I talked to as many people on the ground as I could, among these the following:
Jennifer Christie, who is planning on running for Congress in Indiana’s 5th district, was one such person, one of several prospective candidates for various political offices in Indiana. She, and many other candidates, were attempting to get out and connect with potential voters, which is important to any political campaign.
Amy Becker, whom I met while registering new voters, had received an email about the Women’s March, and had volunteered to help set with set up for the event. She thought that, in regards to “the Resistance,” “We need to do what we have to do, will get more attention … (We) need that.”
Assisting with voter registration also gave me the opportunity to meet a great many new people, as well as some I was already acquainted with. Tony Davis spoke on behalf of the Poor People’s Campaign, which he described as a “national call for moral revival, uniting people to fight against systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological destruction.” Said Davis, “I believe protests bring light to the issues at hand. Can’t just be protests, need action.”
This view seemed to be reflected in most of the people present.
Of course, at events like this, there were counter protesters. In this case, there were three pro-life activists who set up their counter protest right across from the table for Planned Parenthood. When I asked them what they hoped to accomplish, the man on the megaphone did not give a coherent reply, nor did his fellow demonstrator, who accosted me afterwards. It seemed that their style was more confrontational in nature, meant to upset those who don’t share their views, and to trigger an emotional response.
Fortunately, this type of tactic was not utilized by any other speakers, protesters, volunteers or candidates at the march, which all and all could be described as a rousing success.
But do marches and protests such as this one actually have any type of effect in regards to bringing about the changes the organizers and those in attendance seek? That remains to be seen, and the best indicator will undoubtedly be the 2018 midterm elections in November. Until then, there will, without a doubt, be more of these types of marches, protests, and gatherings meant to campaign for changes at the state, local, and federal levels.