Pittsburgh’s Women’s March goes off as planned despite storm threat
Chanting slogans such as “Build bridges not walls,” “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” hundreds of people took part in the third annual Women’s March on Washington in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
Despite predictions of a winter storm hitting the area, the boisterous marchers made their way from in front of the City-County Building to Market Square where police estimated the gathering to be about 1,000.
The gloomy skies did not dampen the spirits of participants such as Laura Stumpf, 22, who teaches second grade at the Campus School of Carlow University.
“Women’s rights are everyone’s rights in my opinion,” Stumpf said. “It’s really important to be able to fight for what you believe in and show everyone what we are capable of. Just uniting together is a big part of that.”
Diane Quinlin, 70, of the North Hills says she went to Washington to participate in the inaugural Women’s March in 2016, an event first organized as a response to President Donald Trump’s election and accusations by some women’s groups that Trump has fostered sexism and racism. Quinlin said she was marching in Pittsburgh this year to show her displeasure with the Trump administration.
“I feel that our government is being dismantled piece by piece,” Quinlin said. “The bigotry against women, the bigotry against people of color, the bigotry against people who are refugees, Trump is consolidating this country to be straight in line with Russia. If we don’t speak up, this country is going to undergo a sea change and it isn’t going to be good for anybody.”
This week, however, local organizers of the Women’s March found themselves fighting off allegations of insensitivity leveled against them by some members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community for not sufficiently distancing themselves from the march’s national leadership. It‘s been reported that the march’s national co-founder, Tamika Mallory, attended an event at which Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan made anti-Semitic comments.
“We are organized locally,” said Tracy Baton, director of the Women’s March on Washington-Pittsburgh. “We have always had Jewish women as part of our work. We have also had Jewish women on our board from the beginning, so we organize differently (than the national organization). On the other hand, Tamika Mallory has made some extraordinary statements about joining with the Jewish community and why it’s important that our liberation is found in each other.”
After the marchers made their way into Market Square behind an inflated Statue of Liberty, several community leaders gave speeches, including Diane Saylor Daniels, a volunteer with gun violence prevention group CeaseFirePA.
“Women across America are standing up for a renewed battle to ensure that the dream upon which America was built extends to all men without exception and at last to all women,” she said. “We stand up for women, we stand up for people of color, we stand up for Jews, for Muslims, for immigrants, for the disabled and for the uninsured ill among us.”
Among those applauding was Mia Sterdini, a 19-year-old Point Park University student who held a sign that said “Protect Black Women.”
“I think this is such a beautiful thing,” said Sterdini. “I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is that it’s not important what we do here, it’s what we do once we leave here. How we continue to organize, how we continue to fight and that we lead with love in every part of our lives because this is the only country we’ve got so we have to make something beautiful out of it.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a freelancer.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or email@example.com.