DENVER – For a second day, Coloradans gathered at the steps of the Colorado Capitol to express their concerns with what the future holds under the Trump administration.
But where Friday’s Inauguration Day protests consisted of a few hundred passionate people dressed in dark colors of mourning, the Women’s March on Denver that overtook downtown Saturday was a kaleidoscope of color that spanned the Civic Center Park across from the Capitol.
But first among the hues was the pink knitted hats worn by many in the crowd, which numbered in the tens of thousands.
Touted as a march for human rights “sponsored by women, for everyone,” the event showed the level of concern many have on the heels of a vitriolic campaign season, particularly women who feel their freedom of choice may be in danger, said Colorado Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.
“I think women, in particular, felt attacked as well as a lot of other groups, and (Saturday) we’re going to come together as a united force and show that regardless of what happened in the election that we’re going to stand together, we’re going to support one another and that we’re not going to let any of the divisive policies that were brought up during the campaign take effect here in Colorado,” Herod said in advance of the event.
Sarah Taylor-Nanista, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said “this is a direct impact of the concerns that women and families have regarding the incoming administration.”
The march also signified a need for community in a time of uncertainty, said Ashley Wheeland, legislative and political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “I think people are afraid, too, and we want to come together and feel community. I want to know that, and it seems our activists do, too.”
The sentiment of coming together and making a stand was shared by many at the rally.
“I needed a way to express my dissension, and a need to do it in an army of women who felt my anger and frustration and a passion for good,” said Alonit Katzman of Denver as she pushed 7-month-old Aviela’s stroller along Colfax Avenue.
“It’s a great way to sort of let go of some of that grief,” said Jane Maxwell of Denver.
Joelle Brummett said she was grateful for this opportunity to express her values and knowing so many fellow Americans around the nation were also marching empowered her to participate.
“I think it was encouraging to know that so many cities across the nation, and across the world, actually, are marching today,” Brummett said.
For some, the release of tension and building of community came through the chanting of the mantras “no hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here” and “my body my choice.”
Michelle Morton and John Yungclas said the emotion behind anti-Trump chants and signs was understandable but out of place at what they felt was a gathering of hope, not hate.
“It’s really hard to fight anger with more anger or negativity, and that’s so much of what the election was about that it would be lovely if we could move away from that,” Morton said.
Christopher Mathews and Gilbert Hernandez said most of the people they had talked to came to show solidarity with other women or, in the case of the men in attendance, with the women in their lives.
“I feel privileged to have had a strong feminine role in my life, and yes, I come out here for them but I also come out here for all women,” Mathews said.
Hernandez said he was pleasantly surprised by how many children were at the rally with their parents.
Katzman said she brought her daughter to the rally because she “couldn’t imagine her looking at me when she was 15 and asking, ‘Mom, why didn’t you take me?’”
For several elected officials, who delivered speeches to the crowd after a march that snaked through downtown Denver, Saturday’s event was an opportunity to show their commitment to their constituents.
“I live by a value that is ‘I will not complain about a problem unless I am willing to work on a solution,’” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “I don’t know what the problem might be or whether or not there’s going to be a problem, but you better believe I’m going to be ready to act and work together with my community, so this is the start of that.”
Jenet said she first became aware of the rally when her 16-year-old daughter came to the Representative in the wake of the election and asked if she could participate.
“When your child says, ‘Mommy, please take me because I want to be a part of something,’ there’s no way you say no,” Jenet said.
House Speaker Crisanta Duran said events such as Saturday’s march are but one avenue open to Coloradans to have their voices heard.
“There’s many ways to get involved. For some, it may be going to the Women’s March; for others, it’s voting; for some others may go to a town hall or community meeting or write a letter to legislators or members of Congress or the White House directly,” Duran said.
Regardless of how people make elected officials aware of their concerns, it is a critical part of our duty as citizens, Herod said.
This sentiment was echoed by Duran.
“Throughout our history, it’s when people have come together to express our voices and values when we have seen meaningful change,” Duran said.
For Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, Saturday’s march represented an opportunity to set aside her position in the House and stand for something she believed in, she said.
“I’m participating as Barbara McLachlan,” she said. “I’m participating because I would have anyway. It has nothing to do with me being in an elected position and having a different voice than I had before.”