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Thousands turn out for women’s march

Karen Morales
Thousands turn out for women’s march
Cambridge city councilors E. Denise Simmons and Sambul Siddiqui and School Committee member Manikka Bowman.

On the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, thousands of people gathered at the Cambridge Common on Saturday to oppose his policies and re-affirm that women’s rights are human rights.

The Cambridge/Boston Women’s March 2018: The People Persist event follows in the footsteps of last year’s Women’s March in which people across the country took to the streets and rallied against the newly-elected president.

This year in Cambridge, as in cities across the nation, Trump and his policies were the target of demonstrators’ ire.

“He’s an embarrassment and certainly no role model for young girls and boys,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “His policies are unconstitutional and yes — un-American.”

The Cambridge demonstration was organized by The January Coalition, a collaboration of social justice groups in Massachusetts, and co-sponsored by nine other local organizations including Indivisible Mystic Valley, Massachusetts Peace Action, and Cambridge-Somerville for Change.

The demonstration featured a lineup of elected officials and community members who spoke at the event and musical groups who performed.

Feminist scholar and representative for Massachusetts Peace Action, Valentine M. Moghadam talked about her work with feminist organizations in the Middle East as an Iranian-American.

“The women of the Middle East demand respect and concrete measures, not just rhetoric, towards peace, stability and international cooperation,” she said.

Moghadam specified concrete measures the U.S. administration should follow.

“Support and endorse the Iran nuclear deal and sanctions, lift the travel ban and normalize relations,” she said. “This is what the young people of Iran wants and especially the young women of Iran.”

Bringing the demonstrators’ attention towards immigrant rights was Laura Rotolo, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

“Deportations are skyrocketing, people with TPS are afraid to go back to countries in war, dreamers who have worked so hard to be here, are facing having to go to countries they barely know,” she said.

In addition to Trump, Rotolo directed criticism at state leadership.

“We may not let Massachusetts off the hook,” she said. “We say we are a blue state and progressive but when it comes to immigrants, that is not true — and shame on us.. When DREAMers can’t pay the same in-state tuition as our brothers and sisters…and we are the only New England state where we deputize our local officials to act as immigration agents.”

While demonstrators and speakers highlighted many inequities in the country, City Councilor E. Denise Simmonds highlighted progress at the local level, sharing the stage with fellow Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui and School Committee member Manikka Bowman.

“The symbolism is very important,” Simmons said, explaining her decision to share the stage with other Cantabrigian elected officials of color. “If you see women of color, you think of women of color. For so long, it’s been easy for us to be invisible. We still have to fight for our place at the table. We’ve done extraordinary work for this city.”

A written statement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, read by the event’s MC, Zayda Ortiz, said, “The women’s march is just the beginning. We have to continue to elect more people who share our values…volunteer for voter registration…pull in new people [to the movement].”

In her remarks, Attorney General Healey said she and other women will continue to fight to protect women’s rights.

“We have a voice and we’re going to use it,” she said.