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Liberty the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.
This is a sad time in our nations history. Liberty is at stake. Now is the time when we must all stand up, stay strong and stay together. Personally I want to continue to hold my morals and values close to my heart, yet I want to continue to become an individual who can reach out across "party lines" and can hold an intelligent, decent conversation with others who hold values that are dissimilar to mine. I for one have begun to reach out to my family, to tell them my fears about our liberty, and why it is I am making the actions that I am in my life.
On Friday January 21st, I drove along with my partner (who totally did the majority of the driving ) & carload of friends to Ashburn, VA. The drive through the night from Buffalo NY was extremely foggy and involved an entire bag of cheetos along with plenty of red bull - this is not a normally in our house hold. The entire car ride we spoke about how angry we were, how we won't stand for inequality and hatred any longer, and how desolate we were left feeling as the result of the election became reality. I still feel many of these emotions, except they have become elevated and its really hard to find a release. I voted, and I didn't vote for this load of shit.
We woke up on the 21st and it was a feeling I have never felt. I hoped that it would be a complete cluster, and that it would take us hours to arrive in DC. The anticipation for this demonstration was better than any in my life, beat out Santa, Birthdays everything. I got everything I hoped for and at times, it was frightening. When we finally were able to get onto the train, we filled a car, it was NYC tight and after our second stop we were jammed tighter than I have ever been in my life. And at our 3rd stop (having like 10 stops left) we could only afford enough squeeze room for two ladies. We felt super sick, and it got really hot on that train, yet I held some great conversations with many women, specifically young women about birth control and other options they still have under the affordable care act. After a hour and a half train ride in on the silver line, we arrived at the second to last station, they had closed the last due to an overflow of people.
As we left the platform, I cried for the first time as the train driver got on his loudspeaker and yelled repeatedly until only the sound of cheers could be heard - "GO WOMEN GO - GO WOMEN GO". That was the first of many empowering and uplifting moments which really made me fell the context of our situation, to feel one less step away from the edge because someone around you gave a flying fuck. As we scanned our tickets we passed multiple army personal who stood in full uniform and were applauding us, saying "THANK YOU". We stepped onto the escalator and it felt as if we were being brought into a kodachrome color movie from black and white, we surfaced into a sea of people all marching and gathering on independence ave.
While various speakers caught the attention of many ears, we made our way closer and closer to the front stage, we simply had no idea where that was. We walked by people, so many of them, young and old all different from one another. It brought me healing, to see so many people in one place all marching for liberty - women, lgbt, men, people of all backgrounds. I spotted many signs, many pro planned parenthood, many anti trump (one of my favorites was a sign that referred to him as a cheese puff), many great play on words, lots o pussy caps & signs, it was beautiful. One sign which stuck for me was the following "We are the grandchildren of the witches you couldn't burn". Another read "If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd fuck a senator". There were kids and photographers scaling trees up and down independence as well as most side streets. It was a sea of human beings, all standing up together to oppose hatred which people direct towards us.
The rally was phenomenal. The crowds response to the rally was moving, the cheers, chants, and applaud. We moved from one side of 700 & independence to the other, just trying to keep up our circulation in a crowd of that size was difficult. Your back starts to really hurt, luckily non of us had to run to the bathroom, one girl next to us simply squatted and pissed like two people over. It was fine, all in the good of the demonstration. Around 1pm we all thought that it was TIME TO MARCH, well the marching had been moved to 2pm said some in the crowd, and while deliberating happened a group of people pushed past us yelling "MARCH, MARCH, MARCH" on and on again, until their voices were lost in the sea of voices. I looked forward, no room - I looked behind me no room, left - right, no room to go, the side streets were jammed. All of a sudden a friend and I heard "MEDIC" so naturally in a crowd of this size (i guess) we all started yelling "MEDIC". It was really nice to see people coming together as one.
What I heard was that someone had a panic attack and needed help, so with this about 10 minutes later, an ambulance comes through the intersection. Now I would love to blame this next event all on DJT but its nearly speculation. Police separated the intersection that we so happened to be in the middle of, followed by police on motorcycles, followed by police on bikes, followed by the ambulance, followed by police on bikes, police on motorcycles, and police in cars. The entire event was super odd and striking and lasted for about 45minutes but it felt like 2 hours. We were left even more smushed and once the police left the intersection, more people filled the "free" space. It felt super dangerous and shame on the police or whomever planned the event without thinking about how to evacuate people quickly with ease in a safe manor from the demonstration. This then happened a second time and we were forced to the other side of the intersection. This was the only time I felt unsafe during the entire demonstration.
So with that everyone at 700 and independence ave starting yelling "MARCH, MARCH, MARCH" and it was such a weird moment to be in a crowd because there wasn't really anywhere to go without really inconveniencing another person or group of people who were trying to stay together. That point I will add was another beautifully difficult part of the demonstration (staying together) but we simply used a buddy system. Meaning we yelled out "BUDDY" which no-one else was doing, it was super goofy and it worked. So back to the marching part, as it turns out there was no where left to march.
At first I was like oh man, we got all the way here and we can't march..wtf, I like really just had this vision of marching with all of these people to the mall and just feeling so great. Well people started going in opposite directions, the organizers claimed people were going to march down 700 ( or at least that is what we had heard ) but there wasn't anywhere to really go, and so we starting heading out. We ran into an EMT on a side street which had cleared a bit and she claimed that 1.8 million people were here. This is when things got crazy as in people really started moving. A wall of people was straight ahead of us, and another EMT told us that the subways over this way were all shut down. So we decided to go towards - union square - I think it was but its a rail that is near the capitol building and we could hop over onto the silver line from there.
Well then we turned to our left, and were confronted with many spurts of mini marches, it was so beautiful. People just completely rejected the notion that they weren't going to be able to march and it was so energizing! There were military vehicles parked all along the side streets, some had sand in them others just parked with military personal inside recording us on their iPhones. On our walk we spotted VICE news and all of the other media buses (until then we really had no idea if the media had shown up to cover this march - I don't think anyone knew how large it really was going to be.
Someone in the "buddy" group needed to take a leak so we stopped for a bit, and we realized that we were actually like about 500ft from the stage. So that was cool, we were surrounded by different more of the same demonstrators with lots of pink hats, all different signs, and then we hear a cheer - a very loud cheer, and we see Amy Schumer appear on he giant tv screen and she announces, Madonna. Seeing Madonna was cool, her speech was actually really empowering - you should check out every single person who spoke at the Women's March and their speech. When Madonna said the bit about the white house, its safe to say like everyone in the crowd went..ooooOOOooo. And that is the end of that - I didn't really want to see her perform, and I kinda wish we would have sang like this land is our land or something.
So we moved on, and as we walked by the giant TV and turned the corner, we saw a very large march happening. And very naturally we ended up right behind the girls who were leading this march down I had no idea what street with a bunch of people following. It was a group of lovely, strong, organized young women. They had to be no more than 17years old. Their banner which read "RESPECT OUR EXISTENCE, OR EXPECT RESISTANCE" was carried with pride as they chanted "NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA" - "BLACK LIVES MATTER" - "WER'E NOT SORRY" - "HEY HEY HO HO DT HE'S GOT TO GO". I tapped one of the girls on the back of her shoulder and I said, "hey is it okay to propose a chant about our climate?" she said "SURE!" "What do you want to say". I thought for a moment because I just half believed she would of had an answer off the bat, and I responded "SAVE OUR PLANET" so it felt really fucking great. I felt really truly American, and genuinely patriotic for the first time.
I looked to my right and I saw our nations capitol, and I looked to my left and saw the national monument. I had a a kind of holy shit moment, because I have traveled many times to visit family in DC, and my mom and sister and I always went into the city to you know, learn and be tourist. And I began to cry because I never thought growing up, that one day I would end up marching for equal rights for all americas down the very streets I used to pose for family album photos. It was a defining moment. Not everything that we perceive as normal is normal, and non of our rights should ever be taken for granted.
After a good long march we ended up splitting from the group very close to the capitol building, and grabbed a bottle of water and really sticky wet pretzel from a very wise entrepreneur, and found our way to the train station. It was still complete madness and the streets were jammed packed, but everyone was peaceful, patient, kind, and respectful. My memory card (the only I remembered to bring **** that day) filled with the first picture you say in the gallery. As we rode the train home, people spoke, passed out business cards and as people left we cheered and applauded them, and finally they us.
This was truly a life changing experience for me, I have always thought about becoming involved in american politics in some way, shape or form. Only my future actions will tell.
In closing, I honestly have never felt more patriotic in my life. That day I hope I never forget, as well as the people who were empowered, inspiring, and hopeful. I wish DT wasn't our president - but he is for now and I will fight every policy and executive order that is unjust and inhumane. As of right now, I wake up every day and I'm so glad that I marched on washington on January the 22nd 2017.