UPDATED: Local and statewide women's marches emulate that of D.C.

Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 4:28pm

Thousands of protesters marched through Ann Arbor to the Diag to participate in the Women’s March Saturday afternoon, in support of social justice issues such as protection of minorities, LGTBQ communities and women’s rights in light of the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

LSA sophomore Anne Lemberg, who was present at the march, said she participated in order to demonstrate her discontent with Trump’s policies.  

“I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and I am not happy with him as president,” she said. “I think that he is going to take the country backwards … and I want the world to see that there is going to be consequences all over the country if someone who doesn’t respect the rights of all people equally is in charge of it.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) spoke to the crowd at the rally following the march, encouraging women to unite to speak out against Trump.

“We stand here today united and we will stay united in fighting for this country we love and our vision of what America should be,” Dingell said. “Today is only the beginning.”

In an interview with the Daily, Dingell said she was also in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning for the Women’s March on Washington — where hundreds of thousands of people protested — before boarding a plane and rushing back to also be unified with her constituents in Ann Arbor.

“It’s women of all generations coming together to show what happens when we come together, so it’s really touching and exciting,” Dingell said.

Dingell said she believes the march is part of a larger movement of people uniting against Trump and potential policy positions he could take as President.

“If (Trump) tries to hurt young people, if he tries to hurt Social Security or Medicaid, if he tries to create a Muslim registry, if he tries to do something that will hurt our water, the Great Lakes, these voices will pull together, because we do care about America’s future,” Dingell said.

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D–Ann Arbor) was also in attendance and in an interview with the Daily said he believed today marked the beginning of a broader movement against Trump’s presidency.

“I think what’s important about today is that this is sort of the beginning of the resistance,” Rabhi said.

Rabhi, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2010, said he was impressed with how many people were in attendance.

“This is probably one of the largest crowds I’ve ever seen on the Diag,” Rabhi said. “It’s amazing to see this many people turn up, people who don’t usually come to protests — everyday Ann Arborites and Michiganders coming out here to fight for their rights.”

State Rep. Donna Lasinski (D–Ann Arbor) also addressed the crowd at the event and spoke about uniting together on such issues as ensuring equal pay between women and men.

“We still, as women, only make three-quarters of what men make for the same work,” Lasinski said. “At the current rate it won’t be until 2086 that we achieve parity.”

Economics Prof. Tilman Borgers said in an interview with the Daily after hearing Trump’s inaugural speech and the values he presented, he felt he had to march.

“I think it’s a great relief that there’s such a great mass of people protesting today,” Borgers said. “I think it’s just reassuring that so many people show that these are not their values.”

Art & Design sophomore Martina Potlach said she believes the march is a valuable demonstration of local residents desire for equality.

“I think it’s important to support not only women’s rights, but equality throughout gender, race, sexuality, immigrant rights,” she said. “I think it is important to get out in your town … we should be able to raise our voices.”

Lansing

Thousands of protesters also marched in Lansing as part of the women’s marches across the country. The rally following the march featured several local speakers.

Zoe Seinfeld, School of Social Work alum, said more attention needs to be given to the trans rights movement. She said when the LGBTQ movement is being fought for, the “T” is often the first aspect left behind.

“Trans people are a smaller group than the others I've named,” Seinfeld said. “We need you, our allies.”

Seinfeld said more trans women are killed in Detroit than any other city and urged the crowd to mobilize as trans allies.

“Demand respect for our identities, our names, our pronouns. I promise we will do the same for you,” Seinfeld said.

Lisa Brown, Oakland County clerk, also spoke, and asked women to become more politically involved.

“More good women need to run for office, so we have more good women in office,” she said.

Brown reinforced that in order to implement progressive ideals, both local and federal government needs to deviate from the norm.

“Yesterday was called a historic day, but I don't know what's historic about another white man becoming president,” she said.

Brown acknowledged that many women who live in conservative districts, do not feel as if they have a voice. However, she said, in today's political climate, anything is possible.

“I am the first and only Democrat to represent my district in the state house, don't tell me it can be done,” Brown said. “Get your name on the ballot. Stand up, fight back, run, win.”

Dr. Farha Abbasi, who kicked off the march, said despite many people's prejudices, Islam is a progressive religion, and deserves to be more acknowledged in liberal movements.

“Islam is inherently feminist and undoubtedly American,” Abbasi said.

Dizzy Warren, the executive director of Enroll Michigan — a state program designed to connect uninsured people to health care cited multiple statistics to emphasize the role that the Affordable Care Act has played in Michigan.

“As the executive director of Enroll Michigan, I can tell you that the ACA is definitely working,” Warren said.

Former State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, who concluded the speeches made by politicians, said the best way to regain liberal control is to run for local office.

“The way you change what happens in Washington is by changing what happens in your community,” she said.

Daily staff reporter Colin Beresford contributed to this article.