What to Expect at Women’s March LA

Image courtesy of Women’s March LA.

The Women’s March on Washington (WMW) will take place Jan. 21, 2017, just one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. It has created a considerable amount of conversation since its location was released on Dec. 9, 2016. The goal of the march, as stated on its website, is to “join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

WMW has inspired other metropolises; “Sister Marches,” as they are called, have risen all throughout the country, and even spread internationally. All around the world, people will congregate on Jan. 21 to walk in solidarity to showcase the power of intersectional feminism.

One of the largest of the Sister Marches will be hosted across the country in Los Angeles. It will begin in Pershing Square at 9 a.m., where attendees will gather together before marching to City Hall at approximately 10 a.m.

Aly Nagel, a representative of the Women’s March California, and Women’s March LA’s Public Relations Outreach and Social Media Manager, took time with FEM to discuss the march’s intentions.

“The election happened and we needed an answer and outlet for how we were feeling,” Nagel said. “This was just a general consensus as women, as a nation, as minority groups – anyone who felt like their voices were not being heard or marginalized needed an outlet. So the march is the answer.”

Under the FAQ page on the Women’s March LA’s (WMLA) website, organizers have assessed that the event is “not a protest,” calling it rather, “a celebration of human rights.” Their mission statement ends with the idea to “work peacefully,” in an effort to gain equality for all marginalized communities.

WMW maintains a similar goal of peace. On its website, organizers have constructed a five-point set of “guiding principles” that have seemingly echoed through the Sister Marches. These principles argue against “physical violence” and “internal violence,” taking up a self-sacrificing motif that will potentially set the tone for the marches.

“I feel like Women’s March, it’s different when you talk from person-to-person… but it is a peaceful march,” Nagel explained. “It’s not a protest… It is, I want to say, a cathartic relief or release of emotions.”

Organizers and volunteers for the march, such as Nagel, have expressed hope that power will come through the large crowds at each city’s march. WMLA’s website discusses a need for solidarity, “to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.” The Facebook event page seems to confirm organizer’s wishes, with 56,000 promised attendees at the time of publication, and 66,000 interested people.

“One word that sticks out to me in particular is… inclusivity. And that’s what this march is about. Yes, this march is about women, and we need to be heard, but also, there are so many groups that are affected and will be affected by what’s going on,” Nagel said. “We’re coming out to say, ‘hey, we’re not okay with what’s going on; hear us loud and proud.’…The fact that it is inclusive is important.”

Solidarity means the Women’s March is open to anyone who “stands for human rights, civil liberties, tolerance of diversity, and compassion for our shared humanity,” as stated specifically by the WMLA site. Nagel also confirmed that though it is called the “Women’s March,” men, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people are welcome.

“I know that guys especially are feeling kind of weird about the march,” Nagel said. “They’ve lived in our patriarchal society for so long, how would they know any different? …[But] you can be male and be a feminist and stand in solidarity with women. You can stand in solidarity. If you’re a straight, cis white male, you still can go.”

She only warns against those that do not understand the fundamental need for equal rights across the board.

“If they don’t [understand that need], then we don’t want them!”

In any case, the march is “permitted and insured,” according to a post on the Facebook page by Dove Rose Grennan, a host of the Facebook event page and one of WMLA’s organizers. The LAPD and LAFD will have a presence at the march for safety precautions, along with “other security.” But Grennan asks that attendees “say something,” if they see something, to keep peace between everyone at the event.

For those who have not participated in any previous protests, rallies, or marches, Nagel had a few tips.

“Bring a backpack or a small bag that you can keep a couple snacks in, definitely some water, you know, the basics,” she said. “Bring a jacket. Who knows what the weather will be like? Definitely a sign, because you’ll feel like you’re missing out if you don’t have some kind of signage.”

The march will go from Pershing Square to City Hall, which is about a mile distance. In the Facebook event’s “About” section, Grennan and the other hosts state that at City Hall, “there will be a rally.” Attendees will then march back to Pershing Square for what Nagel calls a “sort of festival.”

“I believe it’s going to be, like, 75 vendors set up around the park. And they’re going to be handing out information, and I mean, it’s groups from like Black Lives Matter, to I think A.C.L.U.’s on board, to even smaller publications and things like that,” she said.

The Facebook page also boasts “entertainment, [public] speakers… and food trucks.”

For those who cannot attend, but wish to support the cause, WMW, WMLA, and other Sister Marches are accepting donations to fund the individual events.

“We just launched a new line of merchandise on [our website],” Nagel said, but at the time of publication, the site indicated that merchandise was currently sold out; limited apparel will be sold at the event.

Donations given to WMLA will also be forwarded to MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Planned Parenthood, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, according their site.

Nagel made a point to share that the march’s goals extend far beyond the march itself. The donations and the vendors with information on their organizations are just one step in the right direction.

“I think the take-away is going to be, obviously, attending the march, but it’s going to be about keeping the momentum going,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been talking about with my personal friends, and just in conversation … we’re building up to this march, which is going to be awesome, but what happens after that? So it’s about continuing to be organized, and have goals.”

That momentum, Nagel hopes, will simply begin gaining traction within the masses at each of the marches.

“Even just seeing it first hand, and seeing how people are going to respond – they’re going to be playing music, chanting, making friendships, strengthening relationships, just by marching together,” she said. “It’s a really awesome experience, and hopefully that will give people enough momentum to really go out there, and continue feeling this way: empowered, and motivated to make a difference.”

To learn more about transportation, parking, and the exact schedule of events, go to: www.womensmarchla.org.
To learn more about the origins and the Women’s March on Washington, go to: www.womensmarch.com.
To learn more about a different Sister March, go to: www.womensmarch.com/sisters.

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