Thousands Call For Unity At Hartford Women’s March

Maria Basileo and Kristina Vakhman

Kristina Vakhman and Maria Basileo

Saturday’s bitter cold didn’t stop the over 2,000 people, according to state police, who rallied at the Capitol at Connecticut’s third annual Women’s March in Hartford.

“Some people have thrown some doubt into this movement. I say ‘hell no,’” organizer Kaitlyn Shake told the crowd on the Capitol’s steps. “We are not going anywhere, we have a lot more work to do and we need all of you to stick with it and move forward together in unity.”

The 2019 Women’s March brought attention to a variety of issues, spanning from the government shutdown, immigration and racial equality to healthcare, LGBTQ rights and, of course, women’s rights. Marcher Danielle Brochu of East Hartford came, she said, on behalf of immigrants. 

“I’m tired of seeing immigrants that are scared or that are fearful of deportation, racism and not being believed for [being victims] of sexual assault and I’m here for them,” Brochu, who cheered enthusiastically at the front-lines of the rally, stated.

Matthew Williams and Tanya Arrowsmith came with their group, the Hartford Area Humanists, but individually had their own reasons for participating in the march.

“Women’s rights and human rights are definitely under attack right now,” Arrowsmith said. “[I’m] really not happy with how things are going at the federal level.”

“I have a four-year-old granddaughter and this sign says it here,” Williams commented, raising his sign with a drawing a little girl that read ‘I hope I have as many rights as a gun someday!’ “It’s terrible. It’s not right.”

Tammy Schweitzer from the New Haven area had “too many [reasons] to even discuss” for being at the Women’s March. So, instead of a sign or verbalizing her grievances, she dressed as a character from the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a novel-turned-television-show set in a society where women are forced to serve men. 

“[My outfit] is a clear and distinct message of the way we’re going right now and after years of protesting, I’ve learned that cosplay is a lot easier than lugging around a sign,” Schweitzer elaborated.

Central Connecticut students Victor Constanza and Roshanay Tahir, as well as alum Michelle Cardono, also came to make their voices heard as part of their non-profit CHANGE-CT and CCSU’s CHANGE branch.

“It was great to see everyone from across the state fight for equality, especially for all women,” the three said. “We are huge supporters of all the Women’s Marches and any progressive rally, but we should push for legislation such as paid medical leave and progressive immigration reform just as hard as we participate in rallies.”

A number of politicians showed up in support of the march, including Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Senator Richard Blumenthal. Representative Jahana Hayes also walked with the crowd.

Participant Jamie Whitman, who traveled all the way from Mystic, said it was important that the community was directly involved with members of the government. Whitman’s first “Women’s March” was over 25 years ago, with many of the issues then “unfortunately” still relevant today, and change, she stated, would only come if people spoke with their representatives. 

“I told my sister how I call [Senator Chris] Murphy and Blumenthal all the time and I told her, ‘You should call them. They’re here for us. Say it like it is.’ Call ’em. Don’t be afraid to call ’em,” Whitman said.

The march also attracted people from all sides of the political spectrum, with Rachel Buchanan of Plainville taking part as a supporter of President Donald Trump.

The co-founders of this Women’s March said that all women are welcome here so, as a Trump supporter, I came here to support women, Buchanan explained.

The Women’s March recently came under fire nationwide, with accusations of anti-Semitism and the exclusion of the LGBTQ community making even the Democratic National Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center pull their support from the main march in Washington. But at the Hartford march, discrimination was denounced.

Everyone is welcome. All people are loved, Shake said.