Women’s March takes to Fresno streets for third year

The Women’s March was back for its third year on Jan. 19, spreading to Fresno and cities throughout the nation.

Lead organizer Kim Slavan planned the day to begin in an empty parking lot near the River Park area on Nees Avenue at 10 a.m., with various speakers and performers expressing their support and solidarity for women before attendees began the march.

Besides entertainment, the number of community partners tabling has had a considerable turn around over the past two years, moving up from 10 to 30.

Ranging from information and services about family planning to organizations calling for volunteers to help the environment, the public had a wide array of locally offered support to show unity for the cause.

With 1,144 attendees registered online in support of the Women’s March in Fresno, the event drew an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 supporters present, marching together as they followed a circular route down Blackstone Avenue between Nees and El Paso Avenues.

Sporting the infamous pink pussy hats, LGBTQ+ rainbow flags and signs advocating feminist messages for women. The crowd met little push back from a small group of about 20 counter protesters with signs about pro-life rights while waving Blue Lives Matter and Make America Great Again flags.

Popular chants that the crowd yelled in unison consisted of “my body, my choice” and “not my
president.” In opposition, the counter-supporters followed suit with their own chants about making America great again and immigrants needing to go back home.

Police presence during the march helped supporters keep a peaceful protest on both sides. From the start of the march at 10 a.m. until its end around 2 p.m., the crowds stayed strong in their solidarity on the corners of Blackstone and Nees Avenue as oncoming cars drove by and honked.

California State Sen. Melissa Hurtado was one of the speakers who participated. Hurtado rallied the crowd with her speech about the importance of recognizing fear and being strong and courageous enough to keep working for something better.

“The reality is it’s OK to be afraid, but it’s not OK to leave it as is,” Hurtado said. “We have to continue to work hard. We have to stick together and we can’t stop. We have to be collective in this.”

As both a member of organizing the Women’s March movement here in Fresno and involvement as a board member of Women’s March California, Slavan expressed the importance in the community gathering together to show concern for women’s rights and human rights.

“We all have an obligation to protect our human family,” Slavan said. “And I would love to see out here next year a ton of volunteers from the university that want to help support that.”

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