ITHACA, N.Y. — Thousands of people filled Ithaca’s streets Saturday for the Women’s March on Ithaca.
Police estimated about 10,000 people joined in the march and rally.
Ithaca’s march was one of more than 600 across the country and globe taking place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. There were even women in Antarctica taking part Saturday.
Marchers from Ithaca and beyond met at City Hall on Saturday morning, holding up signs that had all types of messages, from “Equality for all” to “We Support Planned Parenthood” to “Marching for our Daughters.” There were also plenty of signs making jabs at Trump.
Chants of “Love trumps hate,” “Love, not hate. That’s what makes America great” and “This is what democracy looks like” filled the streets. Participants went from Cayuga Street to Buffalo Street, turned onto Plain Street and returned to the Ithaca Commons by heading down West State Street.
Marchers spilled onto the Commons after the route and headed to the Bernie Milton Pavilion where local women leaders addressed the crowd and a number of local musicians performed. For January in Ithaca, it was uncommonly warm and sunny Saturday.
As the march wrapped up and the crowd pressed onto the Commons, some children climbed trees to get a better view of the stage.
Tompkins County historian Carol Kammen started the rally off by speaking about women in history who paved the way for today. She read a recent county proclamation that declared 2017 the “Year of the Woman in Tompkins County.” This year marks 100 years since women gained the right to vote in New York.
Addressing the crowd, Kammen said together “we will be strong.”
“This day in 2017 in the ‘Year of the Woman in Tompkins County,’ we know we will outlive these times. We live to see old age. We will show our stars and say from this day to the ending of the world, we shall be remembered. We few – but we’re more than a few, this is wonderful – we few, we happy few, we band of sisters, brothers, husbands, sons and parents, we will remember that we fought for each other. We will remember this place, this march, this time, when we stood shoulder to shoulder,” Kammen said.
The Women’s March on Ithaca was initially created by Ithaca resident Amanda Champion. In an interview with The Ithaca Voice before the event, Champion said she originally planned to go to Washington, D.C., but thought it made more sense to have an event closer to home. She credited a handful of people for making the event come together. Champion said her goal organizing the march was to make sure people did not feel alone.
At the rally Saturday, Champion said people do not have to passively accept an “unjust system.”
“You can stand up for your rights. You can demand respect for all people and our planet. You can fight against the wrongs you face. I’m also here to tell you, you don’t have to do it alone,” Champion said.
Video of marchers heading down Cayuga Street:
Addressing the massive crowd, Leslie Danks Burke quoted Eleanor Roosevelt who said “It is better to light a (single) candle than to curse the darkness.”
Danks Burke, who ran for Senate, said the fact that so many people were standing together in Ithaca, meant they had already “lit the candle.” Danks Burke encouraged people to cast aside fears and act. She told the crowd to reach out to neighbors across the Southern Tier, write letters to the editor, write to elected officials, join rallies, register to vote and vote in every election starting with local elections.
During the march, many people waved signs supporting Planned Parenthood. Angela Riddell, director of Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes, said since the election hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer for the organization, and hundreds more have donated.
In the Southern Tier, Riddell said Planned Parenthood sees 10,000 patients every year.
“Politicians in D.C. are trying to block people from accessing essential health care,” Riddell said as people booed in the crowd.”Threats to defund Planned Parenthood are an attack on the most vulnerable people in our community, people of color, LGBTQ people, people with low incomes and those who live in rural areas. For many people we are their only source of health care.”
Michelle Courtney Berry, local business owner and former city alderperson, said: “We’re in this together.” Berry said everyone should hold Saturday in memory.
“Today we march on. We rise. This is a day in history,” Berry said.
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said in a true democracy, what matters is people showing up. At the march, she said today was a hopeful day.
“We are standing together and working together to protect our human rights, the right to control our own bodies, and we will win sooner rather than later because we are already feeling impatient. Really? 2017 and we are fighting for fundamental rights, reproductive rights, reproductive rights that are essential to human freedom. No, we are not feeling patient about this at all,” Lifton said.
Police reported no incidents related to the march Saturday.