Hundreds of people marched through downtown Durango on Saturday, 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. Sledders were momentarily displaced as the marchers surged into foot-deep snow in the 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. Some came to seek community and find ways to get involved in issues important to them.
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.
“We live in a system of power that wants us, demands us to hold that system in check,” she said.
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.
“We commit to resist fear, hate and bigotry,” Kandarian-Morris said.
Stacy organized the march with some assistance from the Unitarian church, but the march welcomed all people regardless of beliefs or political party.
The march was held in conjunction with the inauguration of President Donald Trump and hundreds of marches across the country, most of them part of the Women’s March on Washington.
Some Durango attendees came to stand with other women across the country and the globe.
“We don’t need to fly to D.C. to be heard,” said Lily Stroud.
Chloe Stein, a student at Animas High School, came with her mom, Melissa, because she is concerned about LGBT rights.
“I know a lot of rights are going to get taken away from us,” she said. She is particularly concerned about gay marriage rights because of Vice President Mike Pence’s record of opposing them.
For those who wanted to get involved more deeply, a group called RESPOND held free classes all day at the Smiley Building. The topics included activism, nonviolent communication and combating bigotry.
Candace Brendler, a middle school teacher, came to learn about immigration rights and combating bigotry, because after the election, some of her Hispanic students were concerned that their parents might be deported.
Her school emphasizes kindness, and it has a kindness council that includes students, she said.
But she wants to be more active outside her work, and it seems more pressing after Trump’s election.
“His election helped to rally the progressives,” she said.
Rachel Turiel, the co-organizer of the RESPOND event, was inspired to hold it after the election, and the participants seemed open and engaged.
“My hope is people will find the issue that is important to them and take the skills and techniques they learned here and apply them,” she said. (Turiel is a contributor to The Durango Herald.)
Volunteers organized the event and donations collected were given to Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center, Planned Parenthood in Durango and the Rainbow Youth Center, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youths, families and allies.
In Cortez, the Unity March also drew hundreds of people, many of whom had never attended a political march before, The Journal reported.
The newly formed Montezuma Alliance for Unity organized the event. It was held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.
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 because she was at the march in Washington, D.C.
“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.