About 300K attend 2nd Women's March Chicago, exceeding last year, organizers say

Saturday, January 20, 2018
About 300K attend 2nd Women's March Chicago, exceeding last year, organizers say
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Women's March Chicago organizers said more than 300,000 people packed Grant Park and surrounding streets Saturday, marching for change and women's rights.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Women's March Chicago organizers said more than 300,000 people packed Grant Park and surrounding streets Saturday, marching for change and women's rights. The march ended at Federal Plaza.

Saturday's second annual march was titled "March to the Polls" and aimed to mobilize women to not only vote, but also run for office and support female candidates. It was one of dozens of marches held around the country Saturday.

For Luis Solares the march was a family affair. The Guatemalan-born father and husband said he had to be there for his 6-year-old daughter.

"It's her future that's at stake. So I think that's what really matters to the both of us right now," said Luis Solares.

Saturday afternoon, they joined more than a quarter of a million others for this year's Women's March Chicago.


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Photo courtesy of Susan Snowdon.

"It's so empowering to be here. When I saw everyone I almost started bawling, cause it's just so many women, so many people coming together," said marcher Jaenne Marie Mandley.

The second year of the march come as President Donald Trump marks his first year in office.

For Candy Knippenberg, the weekend march was an opportunity to express her disdain with the White House's position on immigration, among other things.

"We have to speak up to stop the evil that is happening right now in our leadership," said marcher Candy Knippenberg.

Chicagoan Delia Ramirez took the message of "March to the Polls" to heart and is a political candidate for office.

"We have to march today, but what's important is tomorrow is more important, more critical. We need representation," said political candidate Delia Ramirez.

Nearly 400 similar marches were held in solidarity in D.C. and across the country.

"We are going to keep talking and fights and speaking until there's real change for every woman," said Women's March Chicago Board Member Jessica Scheller.

The rally started a few hours later at the intersection of Jackson and Columbus.

Speakers included local politicians, advocates for immigrants and others like Suzette Wright, who blew the whistle about sexual harassment in her workplace.

"This is not just a moment. This is the momentum of the moment and the next thing we do is march to the polls," said Suzette Wright, a former Chicago Ford Assembly Plant employee.

While critics in the past have questioned if the huge crowds that came out will actually signal change, Karl Lyons said yes.

"They are half of our population and they are just as important as any other voice," said marcher Karl Lyons.

Last year, about 250,000 women -- and men -- attended the Chicago event, which was held a day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. Marches were held around the world in 2017 and were held again globally this year.

The crowd of women, men and families gathered in Grant Park at about 9 a.m. for a program that featured more than a dozen female speakers, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia.

At about noon, the group started to move into the streets of the Loop where marchers walked toward Federal Plaza and started to disperse by Saturday afternoon.

At the Women's March and Rally in Washington, D.C., the message was that women should not only vote, but run for office. Thousands took part marching from the National Mall to Lafayette Park.

Celebrities joined the rally and march in Los Angeles, among them Viola Davis and Natalie Portman, where many in the crowd there carried signs reading "Real news, fake president."

And a similar message at the march in Philadelphia. People who took part in the march there hope to create an enduring political movement, one that leads to more women being elected to political offices.


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A woman holds as sign as she takes part in a Women's March in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. The march was one of dozens planned across the U.S. over the weekend.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren


Tahera Ahmad, Associate Chaplain and Director of Interfaith engagement, Northwestern University; Bridget Gainer, Cook County commissioner; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Quiana McKenzie, Emily's List regional campaign finance advisor; Channyn Lynne Parker, transgender activist; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Congressman Bill Foster; Chakena Sims, Chicago Votes board member; Tom Steyer, NextGen America founder/president; K. Sujata, Chicago Foundation of Women president/CEO; Celina Villanueva, New Americans Democracy Project and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Suzette Wright, former Chicago Ford Assembly Plant employee; Kim Foxx, Cook County state's attorney; Anna Valencia, Chicago city clerk; Asha Binbek, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - CAIR; and Michelle Mbekeani-Wiley, of the League of Women Voters.

For more information, visit: http://womens121marchonchicago.org


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Women's March on Chicago in Grant Park on January 21, 2017.
Marcy Huttas