2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles celebrates empowerment and encourages voting

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(Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

More than 600,000 marchers took to the streets of Los Angeles Saturday morning, filling downtown with signs, chants and pink hats.

Beginning at Pershing Square and concluding at Grand Park, the Women’s March focused on bringing the “Power to the Polls” by encouraging marchers to vote for their elected representatives and get involved in the political process. A nationwide voter registration tour will kick off on Jan. 21, aiming to register citizens.

Multiple causes were championed at the event and its sister marches across the nation, including reproductive rights, civil rights, workers rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, disability rights, environmental justice and ending violence against women.

The event began with speakers at the corner of Hill Street and Fifth Avenue, and moved toward Grand Park where celebrity speakers took the stage, including actresses Laverne Cox, Scarlett Johansson, Viola Davis and Natalie Portman who were also among those who spoke.

Davis advocated the #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, that has gained momentum since October 2017 when it began. Davis discussed sexual abuse, trafficking and assault on women and men of color.

Davis said the trauma that she has faced in her lifetime is what drives her to the voting booth.

“I am speaking today not just for the ‘Me Toos,’ because I was a ‘Me Too.’ When I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence, the women who are faceless,” Davis said. “The women who don’t have the money and don’t have the constitution and who don’t have the confidence and who don’t have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break the silence rooted in the shame of assault and rooted in the stigma of assault.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), was slated to appear at the Los Angeles march, but announced via Twitter that amid the government shutdown in Washington, D.C., she was unable to attend.

On the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the government was shut down due to a budget disagreement between Democrats and Republicans and women’s marches were held across the nation.

There’s nothing more powerful than a group of determined people marching and standing up for our nation’s values and for what we know is right. Standing in solidarity with those attending the #WomensMarch across the country,” Harris tweeted.

Pasadena residents Maria Vazquez, 24, and Elina Hughes, 21, attended the march together. Vazquez is Hughes’s caregiver and assisted her in making a sign for the march.

The sign featured a picture of Hughes dressed as Rosie the Riveter that read, “disability rights are civil rights, lead all women.”

“There are so many people who think that because someone has disabilities that they’re not welcome to those civil rights we all gained as natural born citizens,” Vazquez said. “A lot of people don’t realize that people with disabilities are still people, and they deserve the same respect that everyone does. Just because they’re in a wheelchair, crutches, whatever it may be, it doesn’t mean they’re not capable.”

The first Women’s March took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration, and became the largest single day demonstration in American history, according to The Washington Post.

Los Angeles had more than 700,000 participants at the 2017 march, and kept the momentum continuing into 2018.

Abraham Marquez, 31, an activist and organizer with the Answer Coalition in Los Angeles, attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in 2017.

“I’ve been in the movement for a while and to see so many people come out without much promotion … it’s a beautiful thing,” Marquez said. “People are tired, the movement is kind of on its back right now. You see people going into the Women’s March, it kind of revived itself. The fact that it coincides with Trump’s one-year anniversary, I think it’s really motivating people to get involved.”

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