The Women’s March for Unity demonstration was held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and numerous similar events that took place across the country on Saturday.
Organized by the newly formed Montezuma Alliance for Unity, marchers walked in a loop from Cortez City Park on Montezuma Avenue to the Colorado Welcome Center on Main Street, waving signs and chanting for their causes. Although the route covered less than a mile, it took about an hour for the line of marchers to finish it.
The Montezuma Alliance had promoted the march for weeks, but some members voiced surprise at how many people turned up. The crowd more than doubled the number of people who showed up in Cortez for a September march organized in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Journal estimated more than 400 people attended, but organizers said they counted 504 people, including those who joined the march after it was underway.
“This is amazing for this weather,” organizer Barbara Stagg said.
Several local political organizations were represented in the march, such as Montezuma League of Women Voters, the Resource and Energy Action Plan and Montezuma County Democrats.
Craig Paschal, pastor of the Mancos United Methodist Church, marched with several members of his congregation, and he said groups came from other local churches too.
Many participants had never attended a political march before. Jypsy Roth, of Cortez, said she heard about the march at Spruce Tree Espresso House and decided to show her support for the Affordable Care Act, among other issues. She said she’s worried about President Donald Trump’s plan to repeal the health care plan.
“Twenty million people will once again be without health insurance, and that’s kind of a daunting thing to consider at my age,” she said.
Some of the marchers’ signs carried anti-Trump slogans like “Not My President,” but others carried more general messages, like “Save Public Lands,” or even quotes from “Harry Potter” and the poems of Maya Angelou.
Cortez police set up patrol cars at intersections along the route, but the march remained peaceful.
Men participated alongside women, and some brought children.
Brian Mason, of Cortez, marched with his sons, 6-year-old William and 4-month-old Thaddeus. His wife couldn’t be there, he said, because she was in Washington, D.C., participating in the Women’s March on Washington.
“We’re out here to make sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed, and that our country, both citizens and government, will do everything they can to make sure of that,” Mason said.
Amanda Podmore and Kristen Ewing came with a group from Bluff, Utah. They said their town held its own women’s march on Saturday, but they decided to come to Cortez because they consider it “(their) big city.” Both women participated in the movement to create the Bears Ears National Monument earlier this winter, and Podmore said she marched to support protection of public lands. Ewing had a broader reason.
“The government is kind of encouraging us not to question under this administration,” Ewing said. “I think that’s why I’m marching, because I’m questioning, and I don’t like the answers to a lot of my questions.”
In Durango, hundreds of people marched through downtown, singing songs, carrying signs for dozens of causes and chanting “Love Trumps Hate.”
The “Standing on the Side of Love March” started at noon at the train station and headed north to Buckley Park. The event drew people of all ages, including families, who came out to support the environment; women’s rights; the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; immigrants; and minorities.
At our nation’s founding, white male property owners had voting rights, and since then, every other group has fought for their voice, event organizer Melissa Stacy told the crowd.
Stacy and Katie Kandarian-Morris, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, called on the crowd to protect the freedom of all people and promote love.
Stacy organized the march with some assistance from the Unitarian church, but the march welcomed all people regardless of beliefs or political party.
In Denver, the Women’s March on Denver had more than 100,000 participants.
Hundreds of thousands marched in Washington, D.C. – so many that an alternate route was required. In Chicago, the demonstration overwhelmed its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march.