In 2017, Kathy Sargent recalled, the first Denver Women’s March was “enormously packed.”
“It was insane the first year. There were wall to wall people, from the Civic Center building all the way to the Capitol. You could barely stand and move.”
On Saturday, Sargent stood in the middle of Civic Center Park before the fourth annual march began with her friend, Janelle O’Boyle. There was plenty of room for them to walk around.
“Definitely fewer people are here. Of course, it’s still early and I think with the cold weather some people will be showing up soon,” Sargent added.
But O’Boyle said numbers at an event like this aren’t everything. She reckons plenty of people have remained ignited since President Donald Trump was inaugurated three years ago and began enacting a litany of controversial policies. Women also marched against his stance on women’s health issues and reproductive rights, as well as his conduct toward women.
“It’s not complacency, it’s just people trying to do things in their homes, at their work, in their lives. While not everybody can make it down here,” she said, “the people that I know, their energy is still up to make a difference in the voting.”
Long-term action was the new focus of this year’s event. Organizers followed suit with the national march in Washington, D.C., and scrapped the usual political rally in favor of an “impact expo” inside the McNichols building. Organizer Angela Astle told Denverite this week that the idea was to help people connect with specific causes to which they might dedicate time and money.
“If we’re all walking around yelling at each other we won’t get anything done,” she said. “We’ve got to figure out how to channel that energy.”
The decision to use “womxn’s” instead of the traditional word stems from a desire to stand united with transgender people.
Ernestine Garcia arrived early to march at the front of the line. She said keeping that flame alive is important now, more than ever.
“We’ve been waiting for 2020 since November 2016. It is time for this administration, the president and his supporters, to go,” she said, adding that the protest movement that took root after Trump’s inauguration has made a difference in the nation’s political landscape.
“You see the difference at the ballot box, take a look at the 2018 results, we’re hoping for better in 2020,” she said. “It’s just going to snowball. It’s going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.”
More people showed up as the morning warmed. The line stretched south on Bannock Street from the City and County Building, east on 13th Avenue beneath the Denver Art Museum, north on Lincoln Street and up the hill on 14th Avenue past the Capitol before everyone had a chance to start the route. Denver Womxn’s March organizers said they counted about 4,900 entering the Expo, and they estimated about 10,000 people came out to march.
The signs hovering above the crowd showed how many different issues are still on the table.
One read: “Families belong together.”
“Medicare 4 All” was penned on another.
One more wrote: “My body is not up for grabs!”
Other signs were directed right at Trump.
They read “Blue Wave 2020” and “Buh-Bye, Vote 2020” and “Never my president” and “Hindsight 2020” and “LOCK HIM UP.”