Women’s March Los Angeles channels outrage into action

By Christina Campodonico

There was hardly room to move in front of the stage at Pershing Square.
Photo by Maria Martin

If the first time defined a cultural moment, the second confirmed a sociopolitical movement.

Hundreds of thousands of people flooded downtown streets on Saturday for the return of Women’s March Los Angeles — as much a show of unity around progressive values as it was a rejection of gender- or race-based oppression and a rebuke of President Donald Trump’s outspoken hostility toward women and minorities.

“It’s just totally a different feeling from last year,” noted Venice resident Shoshana Maler, a Safe Place for Youth volunteer. “It’s not an anger mood. It’s ‘let’s do something.’”

The march began in Pershing Square at 10 a.m. and concluded in Grand Park at the feet of L.A. City Hall, where celebrities and local elected officials encouraged voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections and spoke on the anti-sexual abuse movements #TimesUp and #MeToo.

Actress Scarlett Johansson, wearing a “Time’s Up” T-shirt, encouraged women to speak out against sexual abuse by recalling the uncomfortable power dynamics she faced as a young woman in Hollywood.

“Suddenly I was 19 again and I began to remember all the men who had taken advantage of the fact that I was a young woman who didn’t yet have the tools to say ‘no,’ or understand the value of my own self-worth,” Johansson said.

Actress Viola Davis delivered perhaps the most powerful remarks of the day, describing how her personal connection to the #MeToo movement “drives me to the voting booth” in the historical context of America’s litany of injustices against people of color.

“My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me,” Davis said. “Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, but it is to fight for the rights of every individual that is taking a breath, whose heart is pumping and breathing on this Earth.”

“Modern Family” actress Sarah Hyland urged, “For the love of God, please vote!”

Contingents of the West L.A. Democratic Club, the Westchester-Playa Democratic Club and the grassroots advocacy group Venice Resistance trekked downtown by rail or bus.

Kelly Schoeffel, a co-creator of the protest poster collective Join the Uproar and executive strategy director for Playa Vista advertising firm 72andSunny, said this year’s march was just as relevant as the first.

“The fact that it keeps happening shows it wasn’t just a weekend and then we go back to our lives,” she said. “People are keeping up the fight.”

 

1. Women’s March Los Angeles co-founder Deena Katz and Scarlett Johansson. 2. Viola Davis gave a fiery speech about standing up to abuses of power. 3. One marcher’s prescription for a better world. 4. Protest signs reinforced gender parity and slammed President Trump. 5. Passengers who caught a ride downtown on a bus chartered by the Westchester-Playa Democratic Club and L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin celebrated a job well done. 6. Melissa Etheridge performed with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. 7. A child activist got a lift from her Dad. Photos by Maria Martin

christina@argonautnews.com

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