Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March on Washington

The stars aligned for Shannon and I when we got up at an unspeakably early hour Saturday morning, January 21 to get our cab to Logan. With boarding passes printed and no bags to check (we would be living out of two small purses and one small clear backpack until the next morning) we walked straight through security and to our gate, got coffee and sat down about 45 minutes before boarding. No crowd like we had expected.

As boarding time approached, more women sporting pink pussy-hats gathered, and the gate attendant at Spirit Air came over the PA "I have worked here five years and I have never seen this before; this flight is completely full and only one bag has been checked" The place erupted into cheers - it looked like every person on that plane was heading straight from the airport to the Women's March on Washington!

Our flight into Baltimore was uneventful and when we got off the plane and headed to the taxi stand we were shocked to find no one else waiting except two women who offered to ride along with us. We had the cab driver take us to Greenbelt Station, the northern-most station in DC's Metro, which was about a 45 minute drive away and still in MD. As we approached the neighborhood of Greenbelt, there were seemingly hundreds of people with signs and pink pussy hats wandering in all directions. police blockades prevented vehicles from heading down the street where the Metro stop was located. We had our driver pull over and as we paid, a woman approached our cab "How much to take us all the way in to DC?" she asked the driver. It turned out that there was a one to two hour wait just to get ON the Metro.

We all agreed to continue on to DC in the cab, telling our driver that if he could even get us three miles from the city we would walk from there. To our surprise the traffic was minimal, and as we approached a our exit a police cruiser blocked it to prevent further traffic from entering the city. We had the cab driver pull over at the space where the exit and the highway split, I paid him, we hopped out of the car and walked one block to the action (maybe that's not saying much considering how many people were there). We could not believe it!

It seemed that everyone assumed the roads would be nuts, so they didn't even try.

The longest wait Shannon and I had was our next move - Starbucks. I think we were there ninety minutes. The coffee and egg sandwich made it worth it though!

It was really something to see. So many people who just seemed to come from every direction. The creativity with the signs was unending. Everyone was jovial and courteous. I must confess feeling a bit separated from it all though. Maybe it was so huge that I just couldn't wrap my brain around it. Maybe it's my knowledge that while this was a completely historic event, it doesn't solve the problems that need to be addressed. Maybe it was because I actually had to work by finding BU people at a designated time and location (cell phones didn't work well) and photograph them for BU Today. Maybe it's years of being an observer rather than participant because of my newspaper history. I'm not quite sure, but I hope that as it settles in, I can feel good that I was a part of it.

Shannon was such a good sport considering we were basically required to connect with our BU people before anything else. We did find them and I did photograph them. They began to join a moving clog of people, but it became very clear that the march wasn't happening yet and no one was going anywhere. Just packing in tighter in the off-streets from the main collection of people on independence Way. The rally presenters, who had started at 10am were still going at 1:15PM when the march was supposed to start.

When I checked the app designed by the march's organizers, people were commenting on the forum board "Let's march! I've been starting here for hours and I can't move!"  and other expressions of frustration from those who were on Independence Way, in front of the stage and unable to move anywhere.  News spread and it turned out that there were so many people that the march route needed modifying. I'm not sure what that entailed, but I knew it meant that the spot where we were standing and the BU folks were committed to marching through was not the place to be. I photographed them for a while, but when the Dean said "Let's go!" to her travel mates, I decided to bail. I knew they were throwing themselves into a batch of people who literally couldn't move anywhere.

So, Shannon and I parted from them and headed to a nearby freeway which was clear of traffic. It was good to breathe and get out of the crowd, friendly thought they were. I suggested we walk a few long blocks away from the main crowd. Then, we hooked a left and BAM! there people were successfully marching. We joined in and it felt great to be part of it. Reading the signs and hearing the cheers and chants with the backdrop of the Washington Monument was really something!

Afterwards, we ducked into a hotel where a pair of siblings invited us to their room when we told them we were headed to find a bathroom on the second floor (the lines to the port-a-potties were blocks long and I'd hold it all night before going to one of them). She was from Utah, he was studying at Annapolis. We relaxed, just Shannon and I, in the lobby with some tea for a bit, then went shopping for a knit hat which I desperately needed since it ended up being ten degrees colder than expected.

Weeks ago, I made a 6:30 reservation for us at Founding Farmers and boy was I happy I did! Awesome way to end our brief but eventful trip - good food and good company!

Some of my favorite signs included
Resistance is fertile
Thou Shalt Let Women Choose. Falopians 20:17
This Pussy Destroys Things That Tweet (with a cartoon cat who ate a canary)
I Can't believe we still have to protest this shit
Keep the mitts off my lady bits
You can't combover misogyny
Respect Existence or Expect Resistance
You may not be racist but you elected one
Fight Like a Girl

When you can't find a clear backpack, you improvise! In this case with some ribbon and a bedding bag!

At the airport putting contact info on our arms just inn case of emergency.

Our first view of the crowd - blocks and blocks from the center of the action

Independence Way. The rally stage was about four blocks to the right. Jumbotrons and speakers were set-up, but we could never hear what was being said. 

I loved these sashes which seemed to be reminiscent of the suffragists

The women saw me photographing her, turned to me and looked at me with this expression, when gave me a slight nod and turned back after I'd clicked. She was not foolin around.

This large drumline was made up mostly of women and they used no harnesses to carry their drums!


An orange Trump balloon was knocked around for entertainment.

I found this girl and her expression captivating. Her sign read "I need feminism because we still ask what the victim was wearing"

An alternate route out of the clogged crowd

Chanting over the anti-abortionists

member of Planned Parenthood make a chain between marchers and anti-abortionists

at the Ellipse

at the Ellipse

The march continues on beyond the Ellipse

Many signs were left at key spots throughout the city

Resting marchers as the event simmers down

A photo of my by Shannon earlier in the day
 Video clip

Women's March on Washington from C.M. Scott on Vimeo.

I came home to find this plant bloomed while I was in DC. My first thought was "Yay! I didn't kill it!", then I thought about how timely it's opening was.

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