LOS ANGELES–Yellow caution tape held back the crowd of demonstrators lined up for the 2020 Women’s March on Saturday, January 18. More than 300,000 people showed up to Pershing Square with protest signs raised high ready to march toward City Hall, according to the Women’s March Foundation. The late start didn’t seem to dampen any spirits as demonstrators took the delay as an opportunity to document the scene.
The first Women’s March three years ago brought millions of people together. Women and other marginalized groups organized the largest single-day protest in U.S. history after President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. That momentum dwindled over the three years as the original organizers struggled to see eye-to-eye on the direction and message of the Women’s March.
Critics say that mainstream feminism sidelined the movement and turned it into a who’s who of endorsers. Celebrities like Constance Wu and Caitlyn Jenner took center stage at City Hall this year despite talk of programmatic reform with less focus on celebrity guests.
As part of this reform, Black Lives Matter LA was absent from this year’s march after not getting an invite to speak on stage as they have in years past.
According to a statement released by the Women’s March Foundation to LAist, “Black Lives Matter has participated in past year’s programming and we hope they will march in support of women’s rights again this year. While we support Black Lives Matter and its work, since this is an important election year, our speaking program for Women’s March LA 2020 is focused on highlighting organizations and individuals who have a mission to register and encourage people to vote.”
Actress and comedian June Diane Raphael tweeted that she would no longer be speaking at the Women’s March in LA in solidarity with @BLMLA
I am spending the day reflecting on how white supremacy works to divide us and how i can dismantle it in my own life. I look forward to talking to the women’s march organizers about how we can use this moment as an opportunity to learn and further our work toward justice. (2 of 2— June Diane Raphael (@MsJuneDiane) January 18, 2020
Simi Valley resident Cathy Walters shared her thoughts on the Black Lives Matter controversy as she walked along the route. “I don’t know about the politics of organizing this march, but for me as a black woman, I think it’s my own person responsibility to be out here,” Walters said.
“So, whether the group Black Lives Matter was here or not, every black woman that can be here and is here, is saying a statement. It’s my job to step up and that’s what I’m doing,” said Walters.
Los Angeles resident Lauren Oxford wore a black girl magic T-Shirt as she walked her three-month old dog on Hill Street where the march assembled.
“I think it’s important not to leave people out especially the people that you say you need their votes and want to them to participate because they are in fact also women. It’s important to have everyone and everyone’s voice be heard.”
One group that wasn’t absent at this year’s march was the merchandisers. Independent vendors lined the sidewalks along the route selling items such as hot pink T-Shirts, beanies and rainbow flags to demonstrators.
Harriette Fisher set up her floral ink pen table cattycorner to the Grand Central Market, which is a popular downtown eatery and cultural landmark. Her handmade flower pens range in price from $1 for a single pen up to $20 for a bouquet of pens.
This is Fisher’s second year at the Women’s March. Last year she attended the march as a supporter and this year she’s here to sell her pens and support women around the world. “I’m here today to support women,” said Fisher. “My slogan is ‘beautiful and useful’ and as women we are beautiful and we are useful,” said Fisher.