Thousands attend ‘sister march’ in Detroit

Oralandar Brand-Williams, The Detroit News

Detroit — A diverse crowd carrying colorful placards and chanting slogans marched from Wayne State University’s campus on Saturday as part of the sister march for women, a companion event to the Women’s March on Washington.

Thousands took part and many carried signs that read “Not my president,” “The movement has just begun,” and “Women’s rights are human rights.” They chanted slogans including “Donald Trump, racist, sexist, anti-gay. Donald Trump, no way” and “ No hate, no fear. Refugees are welcomed here.”

Men brought their daughters and women brought entire families to an event that included speeches before a walk around the Wayne State University campus to Woodward and Warren.

They also brought along their concerns and fears of what the Trump presidency could mean for long fought for rights such as abortion, civil rights, voting rights and affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Wayne State Police Chief Anthony Holt said the crowd was “well over 4,000,” more than four times what officials had expected.

More than 600 “sister marches” were planned around the world, and plenty of men were part of the tableau, too. Organizers estimated 3 million people would march worldwide. In Chicago, organizers canceled the march portion of their event for safety reasons after an overflow crowd estimated at 150,000 turned out.

Norkita Thompson, 23, from Macomb County, said she took part in the march as a health care provider “because I am fearful of what this new administration will mean for my patients.”

The marchers started at the center of the university’s campus and headed west on Warren and along Anthony Wayne Drive and then to Woodward.

Participants voiced their concerns about whether the new White House administration could begin to rollback legalized abortion but also how repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare , could impact low-income and communities of color across the country.

Marchers also carried placards with messages on a variety of issues. Some chanted “Donald Trump ...racist, sexist, anti-gay Donald Trump No Way!” and “No hate, no fear. Refugrees are welcome here.”

Lisa Nguyen, 24, of Sterling Heights came with her friend to let their voices be among those sending a message to the nation’s capitol.

“Women rights are one of the more important things in life that I fight for,” said Nguyen. “It’s important women have access to birth control, abortion and other things that clinics like Panned Parenthood provide.”

Nguyen said “with (Donald Trump) being in office is almost ...surreal . It just makes me feel like almost demeaned because he is racist and sexist and homophobic and he does not entail what America means.

Thompson, a friend of Nguyen’s, said it’s important to keep affordable healthcare available to women so that they can have access to birth control, abortion and “health care in general because if they don’t have access to healthcare it leads to unwanted things.”

Thompson said she hopes that Trump will not totally destroy the Affordable Healthcare Act because I’ve personally so many people benefit from Obamacare, or the Affordable Healthcare Act, especially homeless people and homeless veterans.”

Wayne State University medical student Lea Selitsky and several other medical students donned white lab coasts and carried a sign that read “White Coats for Black Lives” .

“As medical students and are human we have a right to consider the dismantling of white supremacy when thinking about any kind of healthcare for all,” said Selitsky. “I have concerns about the new administration ... what they stand for and how that will affect the care of my patients.”

Patricia Lay-Dorsey, 74, of Grosse Pointe Farms sat on her purple mobility scooter with a sign attached to it that read “Women Unite Don’t Let Trump Steal Our Rights.”

“.This is the only thing that has happened that is good about Trump,” said Lay-Dorsey Saturday. “it has brought us all together. I am meeting people who have never demonstrated in their lives and that’s what Trump is doing. He’s so incredibly outrageous he’s is bringing all of us out of the woodwork. It’s phenomenal . .

Lay-Dorsey says she is afraid that the new White House administration will turn back abortion rights. She said the Saturday march is a “mandate” against Trump and the future policies of his cabinet.

“How can it be anything but?,” said Lay-Dorsey.

“We’re talking about Roe versus Wade that his (U.S.) Supreme Court justice he has promised will be against i. All of them are against women’s rights,” said Lay-Dorsey. “They are against birth control for God’s sake. I’m old enough to know that this is absolutely unimaginable. This would have been unimaginable thirty years ago. But now?

For Brian Stawowy, a 28-year-old Ferndale resident, who carried a sign that read “Feminist” it’s about equal rights for women and everyone else.

“I agree with the movement,” said Stawowy as he walked along Warren Avenue with the throngs of other marchers Saturday under sunny skies and in unseasonably mild January weather. “Women should have their own choice in their body.”

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