Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Thousands of demonstrators carrying protest signs, waving a wide range of flags and wearing pink-eared hats filled Civic Plaza for the third annual Women’s March on Sunday.
While this year’s theme, Women’s Wave, was meant to celebrate the record number of women elected to political office in 2018, many of those in attendance carried signs supporting a wide range of issues from abortion rights to immigrant rights.
The speakers during the event also reflected the range of causes united underneath the march with speeches dedicated to the importance of political action to remembrance of the loss of transgender individuals.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland spoke to a cheering crowd about the diversity of women elected to office in 2018, while also mentioning the need to end violence against Native American women. Haaland was one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Despite the mixture of messages, many of those in attendance spoke about the need for coming together and the importance of having your voice heard and recognized.
“The reason why I’m here is that feeling of unity,” Shawna Sunrise said.
Sunrise, a Navajo woman, and member of the Santo Domingo Pueblo, said she was driven to attend as a way to celebrate the election of Haaland and to push for more representation of Native women in activist areas.
Others used the march as an opportunity to expose their children to activism.
Dori Villegas brought her 16-year-old daughter, Maia Kulas, to instill a sense of empowerment.
“I’m here today to bring my daughter so that she can just be proud that she’s a woman, and she’s strong and she has a voice,” Villegas, a first time attendee, said.
Villegas said that she was initially worried about attending the event due to security concerns, but she ultimately decided that it was more important to show up.
Samia Assed, co-chair for the New Mexico Women’s March said that the march had a peak of 4,500 attending.
Assed said this number was lower than last year, but she was pleased with the overall attendance considering it was the third year for the march.
The decrease in attendance was not limited to Albuquerque. Nationwide, cities reported a decrease in attendance since the first march which took place the day following the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017.
“It was empowering to see the youth more than anything else,” Assed said.
Abraham Castorena, 15, and Isabel Spotz, 14, attended the march for the first time this year in order to fight for women’s rights and equal rights.
Castorena said that he has been attending more marches in the past year.
While first time attendees used the event as a way to get involved, returning attendees saw the march as a way to continue being heard.
Sharissa Young, who attended the first Women’s March in Washington, D.C., said that she continues coming back as a way to hold representatives accountable.
Leslie Fox, who attended the event with Young, said she was motivated to attend the first Women’s March after hearing Trump’s comments on the grabbing and groping of women.
“I feel like I have to continue to resist the attack on women, really that I feel President Trump started,” Fox said.
The Albuquerque march happened one day later than the national marches which took place on Saturday. Organizers made the change to avoid conflict with the Martin Luther King Jr. march and event.