LOS ANGELES — Thousands of women turned out Saturday to participate in Women’s March 2019 in downtown Los Angeles and dozens of other cities across the country in a push for federal policies that promote equality for all.
With a record number of women elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, organizers said their agenda includes an Equal Rights Amendment, expanding the Violence Against Women Act, universal health care, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, the decriminalization of sex work and campaign finance reform.
“The Women’s Agenda was created with the input of over 50 women from diverse communities, who work on different issues, and represents a unified declaration of what the women’s movement wants to see in 2019 and beyond,” said Carmen Perez-Jordan of Women’s March.
Hundreds of women and their supporters gathered early Saturday at Pershing Square in downtown L.A., some carrying rainbow flags or sporting pink knitted hats.
The screams of the crowd sounded like a rock concert as Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., took the stage. Her campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Knight in the 2018 midterms benefited from a wave of volunteers inspired by the women’s marches and other resistance actions against President Donald Trump.
“The activism has just started,” Hill said as she urged participants to start working to support progressive candidates for the 2020 presidential campaign. “Get back to work!”
Jax Koch, 24 of Beverly Grove, held a sign that said, “I’ve seen better cabinets at IKEA.” He’s attended all three women’s marches in Los Angeles, and said that while the crowds were smaller this year, being near other activists was invigorating.
“I feel like we’re going back in time, for everything that we’ve worked for,” including civil rights and environmental protections, Koch said. “Sometimes it feels like people don’t care about these issues, and I’m reminded that I’m not the only one.”
Peter Stasko, a fourth-grade teacher at Bertrand Avenue Elementary in Reseda, came to the march after five days on the picket line for the Los Angeles teachers’ strike. The negotiators for LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles should work through the weekend to compromise, he said, so this strike could be shorter than the nine-day stoppage in 1989.
“The marching doesn’t end on the weekend,” he said, holding a UTLA sign that said, “We stand with L.A. teachers.”
Since Stasko started in LAUSD in 2002, he said, he’s watched his class sizes creep upward and the number of resources available to students fall. His class this year has 30 students, he said, and he’s had as many as 36. Their librarian works at the school every other week, and their nurse is available one day per week.
“It’s just so difficult to give them the education they deserve,” he said.
After the rally at Pershing Square, participants marched about a mile to a larger gathering at Grand Park in front of City Hall.
Maria Frusteri, 55 of Palos Verdes, brought her friend Deanna Spencer, 50, to the march. Spencer’s sign read, “My name is not, ‘Smile, darling.’ ” The march was smaller this year, Frusteri said, which was concerning, because it could signal that “people are getting complacent about things that aren’t normal.”
This march was Frusteri’s third. After marching in Washington, D.C., in 2017, she joined a group of women whom she met through the march to support progressive causes. They met at their local library to write postcards to voters in key states, urging them to vote in the midterm elections.
Eventually, Frusteri and Spencer said, a group of about 30 women had handwritten and mailed more than 10,000 post cards.
“The group grew and grew,” she said, “We had to get a bigger room.”
At a rally outside City Hall, a balloon showing Trump as a giant, orange baby in a diaper floated over the crowd. Speakers included actresses Laverne Cox and Connie Britton, singer Lance Bass and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was working at City Hall to broker a deal between UTLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Garcetti told women he was proud of the role they played in the midterms: “There wasn’t just a blue wave—there was a pink wave, and we’re proud of it.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, told the marchers that the state will increase funding for Planned Parenthood, provide universal pre-kindergarten and increase paid parental leave to six months, “to support our working moms.”
“We will make sure that the women of this nation know that we have their backs,” she told the crowd.
Large rallies were also planned in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Houston and Chicago. The global gatherings were launched two years ago in protest of the inauguration of Trump, who was caught on tape bragging in crude terms about groping women without their consent.
The Women’s March organization has faced its own problems, including accusations of anti-Semitism. Leaders of the national group came under fire last year after co-chair Tamika Mallory attended a February event with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, in which he said, “The powerful Jews are my enemy.”
Between March and November, the larger group issued three statements in response to allegations that Women’s March leaders were anti-Semitic and homophobic, and it has repeatedly expressed support for its leaders, including Mallory.
“It’s become clear, amidst this media storm, that our values and our message have — too often — been lost,” the national group said. “That loss caused a lot of harm, and a lot of pain. We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We regret that.”
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Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News