The Durango Women’s March on Saturday, which drew about 200 people, was a mixture of commemoration, protest and campaigning.
The national Women’s March organization decided to hold the October demonstration to commemorate late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and protest President Donald Trump’s nomination of a new justice. The Durango event drew Democratic candidates vying for open political seats and others who spoke of the need for change and urged people to get out and vote.
“We have so much to protect because we are losing so much right now,” said Marsha Porter-Norton, a Democratic candidate for a La Plata County commissioner seat, referring to losing public lands, environmental protections and potentially women’s right to choose.
She urged people to take action and talked about what she would do if elected as county commissioner. Wherever people fall on the political spectrum, “this is the election that matters,” Porter-Norton said.
The first Women’s March was held the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017 to protest the new administration. Millions of women gathered for marches around the world.
While the fourth annual Women’s March took place in January, this October demonstration spread to more than 200 satellite marches across the country.
In Durango, the crowd marched from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot and continued along Main Avenue sidewalks to Buckley Park.
People carried signs reading: “I can’t believe we still have to protest this s--t,” “Women belong in places where decisions are made” and “Grab him by the ballot.”
“The turnout is amazing, given COVID,” said Karen Pontius, coordinator with Indivisible Durango.
Rebecca Martinez, a Durango resident dressed as Ginsburg, wanted to honor the justice who died Sept. 18 at 87 years old. Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court in 1993 after being nominated by former President Bill Clinton. She spent much of her legal career as an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights.
“If we must be Ruth-less, we must be ruthless,” her sign read.
The event prominently featured Democratic candidates and progressive values with Biden-Harris yard signs distributed during the speeches.
In addition to Porter-Norton, speakers at the event included Democratic candidates state Rep. Barbara McLachlan, who is running for another term in the state Legislature, and Matt Salka of Bayfield, a county commissioner candidate.
“She led the way. I think a lot of people didn’t even know she was leading the way until she passed,” McLachlan said. “... We need women in politics. We need all of you to be strong and show your voices.”
Tracy Jones, another speaker and a leader with the Southwest Movement for Black Lives, spoke about challenges that disproportionately affect Black women, like unemployment, violence and the financial impacts of mass incarceration
“Make sure we vote. There’s no better time than now,” Jones said.
Pontius said the Women’s March was meant to be inclusive, even across the political spectrum.
“I think we’re not attracting conservative people because our message is about equality and inclusivity and we don’t talk so much about freedom,” Pontius said.
She said she hadn’t invited conservative organizations, but the event is advertised on the group’s website and is open to everyone.
Of nine people interviewed by The Durango Herald, most said they were marching for women’s rights. Several emphasized placing women in policymaking or leadership positions and advocating for pro-choice abortion and reproductive rights.
Martinez was motivated to march because of the election and issues like getting more women in politics and leadership positions.
Sophia Holt, a Durango resident, came out to support racial justice, particularly important, she said, as a young biracial woman in a predominantly white town.
“I’m 17. I can’t vote,” she said. “I want to spread awareness and make sure people can vote, are voting.”