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Tucson community turns out to march for women's rights

The Women's March on Washington in Tucson, Arizona on Jan. 21.

Women’s rights supporters took to the street throughout the nation on Saturday Jan. 21, literally and symbolically marching on Washington D.C. Tucson held a march as part of the Women’s March on Washington to support human rights.

Cheers roared from a crowd covering the park in front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. Signs stood above the crowd with messages ranging from “Dump Trump” and “No more patriarchy” to “Black Lives matter”.

Photo: Steven Spooner

People protest at the Women's March on Washington in Tucson on Jan. 21. The march was a national event occurring in multiple cities throughout the nation.

“We need an uprising in the state,” said Kelly Fryer, chief executive officer for the YWCA Southern Arizona. “Nobody gets left behind today.”

The marchers came the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The movement identifies itself as a nonpartisan event, comparing itself to other historical marches such as the 1963 civil rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1997 Million Woman March.

“The march is standing on its own,” said Robin McSpadden a participant and Democrat in the march. “We will only become stronger.”

Trump lost the female vote to Clinton by 12 percent, a similar spread to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center

The website for the Arizona march states “the movement supports women's rights, survivors of sexual violence, the LGBTQIA community, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Latina Americans, Middle Eastern Americans and immigrants from around the world.”

The organization states that the march is “not about one administration,” but it is welcome company in the protests to Trump's presidency.  The Pew Research Center reports that only 8 percent of black and Hispanic voters cast a ballot for Trump, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations report that 13 percent of Muslim voters voted for Trump.

The Trump administration’s goals for immigration reform as well as his controversial nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General have been targets of outcry from minority groups across the nation. The NAACP organized a sit in at Session’s office, which ended with police arresting the protesters.

Mishka Polyakov, a Republican high school student stood out in the crowd, holding a “Gays 4 Trump” sign. Polyakov said he wants to open a dialogue at the march. His friend holds a sign saying “Build that wall”.

“I’m for gay rights, but against the liberal left,” Polvakov said. “I want to clarify things.”

The Trump presidency and Republican-controlled legislature opens the door to major changes in the areas of women's rights, such as the push by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans are moving to remove all federal funding for the women’s health clinic, a bill that Trump has already said he will sign.

Planned Parenthood has been a dividing line between republicans and democrats for years. The controversy centers around the clinic providing birth control and abortions in addition to other medical services.

Steven Spooner | The Daily Wildcat

An O'odham protester demonstrates at the Women's March on Washington in Tucson on Jan. 21. The march was a national event occurring in multiple cities throughout the nation.

“This movement is about Planned Parenthood." McSpadden said. "It’s about global warming, it’s about the Affordable Care Act."

Planned Parenthood has been a public supporter of Obama's health care law claiming that it qualifies 55 million women to receive birth control.

The Arizona women’s march emphasized on their website that everyone has a right to be safe, treated equally and have access to health care. 

 "We're going to have insurance for everybody, " Trump said in a recent interview with the Washington Post. A lot of what this plan might look like is still in the air, however the new president has said he doesn’t want a single-payer system.

Whatever Trump’s healthcare plan, it is unlikely to cover abortion procedures. In September, Trump promised to pass the Hyde Amendment, a piece of legislation attached to annual funding bills, which bans federal funding from being used for abortions. The congressional House Rules Committee is now drafting an almost identical bill, HR7, with the hopes of pushing it through.

The other concern for women’s rights activists is the empty supreme court seat that Trump is expected to fill. Trump drafted a list of 21 possible nominees to choose from. Towards the top is Circuit Court Judge William Pryor quoted as saying the decision to legalize abortion is “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”

The Women’s March on Washington comes on the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Million Woman March. According to a press release from the movement, the march was started when a Hawaiian women sent the idea to march on Washington to several of her friends.

In Arizona, marches occurred in Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, Phoenix, Green Valley, Ajo and Jerome.

It is still unclear whether this will remain a one-time event, or if the organization will continue to demonstrate. In another press release, the organization stated “the Women’s March on Washington is just the first step; what comes after is up to us all.”


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