NorthJersey.com

Women March In D.C. To Protest Trump's Inauguration

The Record (NorthJersey.com) — December 1, 2016

Patricia Alex, Staff Writer

Across North Jersey, women are booking buses, reserving hotel rooms, planning car pools and rallying their mothers and daughters to descend on Washington the day following the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump.

"There needs to be a really clear message sent to our president-elect and to Congress," said Jen Kistner, a photographer from Edgewater, who plans to attend with her 8-year-old daughter, Caroline. "This is not about a Republican being elected — I've seen plenty of Republicans elected — this is about a really dangerous person with dangerous ideas who is not qualified for the job."

The outlines of the Women's March on Washington, which is planned for Jan. 21 and could draw more than 200,000, began to take shape on Facebook almost immediately following the election of one of the most unpopular and divisive candidates in modern political history.

Trump's election was a particular blow to many who had hoped the country was on the cusp of electing its first female president in Hillary Clinton. Many were stunned and trying to figure out what to do next, and a nascent — if not centrally organized — movement began to take shape.

"The day after the election it was like I was walking in a fog. This was a way to channel that energy," said Caitlyn Wilson, 26, an editor from Bloomfield.

Wilson wound up creating a New Jersey event page for the march on Facebook after she inquired about buses on a page geared to New York. The New Jersey event page has been shared more than 15,000 times, and more than 5,300 people from the state have indicated they plan to attend the march.

"This was entirely grass roots; it's kind of exploded," Wilson said. "Every time I check, the numbers go up and up."

Wilson said she never considered herself a feminist. "I didn't feel the urgency," she said. But the election of Trump, she felt, posed a threat to so-called women's rights, such as reproductive choice.

"We are a majority, and there are millions of us who want to improve on women's rights and don't want to go back in time," she said.

Indeed, Trump's election seems to be galvanizing progressive groups in ways that the Clinton campaign did not. Most say they have no choice but to accept the Trump presidency, but they want to make sure their voices are heard and rights protected.

Organizers seemed to have been caught flat-footed by the groundswell of interest and the logistics in pulling off what has become a national movement of sorts, and all the diversity of opinion that entails.

The name — originally the Million Women's March — was changed in deference to an earlier march by that name in Philadelphia. The route, originally planned as a trek from the Lincoln Monument to the White House, will likely be changed because of competing marches on the National Mall that day.

The national coordinating group for the Women's March on Washington did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But in public posts, members have called on all "defenders of human rights" to join them after a divisive campaign in which many felt targeted by Trump, who lost the popular vote by more than 2 million.

"For women in particular, this is a place to say that there are these issues that are important, and make sure there is not a rollback," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. She said, however, she expects that the march might provide more of an umbrella for others disaffected by the thought of a Trump presidency.

"There is a good chance that that march may morph from women into something broader," she said. "A whole set of issues are mobilizing people," who now want a voice as Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress take power, she said.

"People feel a new realization that who's in power matters," Walsh said. "People need to be present; you just can't be present every four years."

It appears dozens of buses already have been booked from New Jersey. Some groups, like New Jersey Citizen Action, are sponsoring buses, and other buses have been reserved by using Rallybus.net, a service that connects riders to chartered buses.

Riders from as far away as Colorado, Idaho and Arizona have booked seats through Rallybus. In New Jersey, the group is coordinating transportation from 46 locations around the state, including Teaneck-Hackensack, Glen Rock and Hawthorne. Some towns have multiple buses going. The North Jersey buses leave before 5 a.m. The cost is $85 a seat.

"There are many, many buses and they're filling up rapidly," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, an advocacy group. "This is a galvanizing event."

Her group has buses leaving from more than a half-dozen towns around the state, including Paramus. There are 13 buses going from Maplewood alone.

She said many groups, including those that felt slighted by the rhetoric the Trump campaign used, like immigrants, Muslims and labor unions, are coming together for the march. Discussions are underway about a state rally in Trenton as well, but nothing has been decided.

Massiel Suarez, 32, of Westwood had hoped to be in Washington during the inauguration to celebrate a Clinton victory, which she thinks was torpedoed, in part, by apathy.

"We need to send a message that we care," said Suarez, who was born in the Dominican Republic. "We're showing the president-elect that we're here, we're watching and we're strong."

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