At the Women’s March RI Chapter’s one-year anniversary rally, a crowd of approximately 4,000 women and men, as well as children, gathered together this past Saturday at the Rhode Island State House. Everyone joined in the peaceful protest with many diverse issues, as evidenced by a diverse crowd. No politicians were on the speaking program, yet they were encouraged to attend.
The rally came on the first day the U.S. government shut down under President Donald Trump. Those in attendance at rallies and marches across the country made their voices heard by the large number of attendance, signage and chants that they will still resist policies that not only effect women, but all Americans.
“On the day that the GOP shut down the government, we gathered together and stood up for truth, free speech, an end to racism and white supremacy, healthcare for everyone, the environment, immigration rights and equality for every human being in this country known for its lamplight held by Lady Liberty, who used to welcome everyone to her shores,” said Nancy Rafi, one of the organizers.
Young Scarlett Biancuzzo from Bristol, who attended the rally with her mother, became an activist at the event and held up her sign that read, “Fight Like A Girl.”
“Wind and cold didn't keep away more than 4,000 Rhode Islanders and New Englanders from standing for Human Rights at the RI Women's March 2018 Rally. Women, men and gender non-conforming people of all ages attended the two-hour event on the lawn of the State House,” said Shanna Wells, event organizer.
“Today we showed the world that we will not be silenced or bullied by cowards in elected offices around the country – we will continue to take to the streets and fight for all that we hold dear as Americans,” said Rafi.
The Women’s March RI Chapter Rally also focused on efforts to register women to vote and connect people to volunteers to social justice organizations such as Indivisible RI, the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Day One, and The Woman Project who were among approximately 50 organizations or causes that were represented with both exhibits and/or participation.
The Secretary of State’s Office was also there for voter registration.
“Led by the Extraordinary Rendition Band and BrickXBrick, our roster of speakers revitalized the crowd, encouraged everyone to stay engaged in the struggle, and make sure everyone they know is registered to vote in the 2018 elections,” said Rafi. “We know that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we must all stay engaged if we hope to save our country from tyrannical rule.”
Patricia Cocozza Ricci, of Cranston, who is from the RI Women's March Kent County Huddle, also spoke during the Rally.
“I’m a new Cranston resident. Yesterday was inspiring beyond measure,” said Ricci. “The vibrant crowd was fired up for the work which lies ahead. Not only does the wave of resistance persist; it is growing stronger daily. Yesterday was truly sweet nectar for my soul.”
At the Rally from Warwick was Edith Mclaughlin who stated that “It was amazing to be with so many strong women who are standing up adding our voices to a sound picked up and reverberated around the world...we won't be silenced. So many women with children and their life partners and like myself men who want equality for their wives, mothers, daughters and sons.”
Those opposing President Donald Trump’s views on issues and policies including abortion, immigration and LGBT rights were also prevalent at the rally. The Me Too movement was also included in this year’s rally, as women have begun to speak out about abuse and sexual harassment. Also exhibited at the rally was the need to maintain the freedom of the press.
“Today's rally showed the power and resilience of the people in our state. Now we must march into the voting booths and make the real change we need to make our state, and our country, reflect the values that we hold most dear,” said Rafi.
“Beautiful, energetic and full of different woman of all cultures standing as one for a better future,” said Karla Roper of the rally, who was present with her daughter Kalexa Roper, from Johnston.
Joanne Ficorilli, also of Johnston, stated that, “Yesterday reminded me of the late 60s, early 70s when myself and others felt like we needed to step up and speak out. It was very energetic and inspiring to be part of that crowd. It was also wonderful to see today's youth taking part, like my generation did so many decades ago.”
“I encourage everyone to visit our website (www.riwomensmarch.com) and connect to a local WMWRI chapter to get involved in a social justice issue you feel strongly about. There's still a long way to go, but I believe we'll get there as long as we're willing to work together," said Rafi.