Locals join coast-to-coast demonstrations following presidential inauguration

By Stefanie Donahue

The swearing in of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States spurred a flurry of demonstrations through the weekend in locations around the globe.

As early as noon on Inauguration Day, January 20, individuals advocating for a variety of causes, including those against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), flocked to Peace Arch Park, banners in tow.

The Bellingham NoDAPL Coalition organized a three-hour demonstration to advocate for the protection of treaty rights and freedom of religion, among other things.

“We are standing up today for the Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors,” said Ronna Loerch, who helped hoist a banner with the orange-lettered script “Honor the Treaty.”

Loerch learned about the demonstration through a group called Occupy Bellingham and joined several others, including those representing Coast Salish tribes, she said.

“We’re here to be in solidarity with each other,” she said.

That same message resonated with crowds at coast-to-coast demonstrations the following day. With the help of dozens of independent coordinators, women’s marches took place in locations throughout the US, and in some locations across the globe.

Close to home, a dense crowd donning pink caps and banners gathered at Bellingham City Hall, at 210 Lottie Street, to participate in the march on January 21. Speakers, poets, musicians and vendors were on the scene to inform and entertain the masses.

According to figures reported by Women’s March on Bellingham, more than 10,000 people attended – an estimated 6,000 virtually RSVP’d on Facebook.

“There were persons of all ages, genders, families [and] persons in wheelchairs with signs that were not mass-produced, but reflected what was in the holders’ hearts,” said Blaine resident Susan O’Malley in an email after participating in the Bellingham march. It was her first time taking part a public demonstration, she said.

Other locals took their message outside the bounds of Whatcom County, including Semiahmoo resident Helen Worley.

Just a day before the march, she hopped on a plane en route to D.C. to meet with her 24-year-old granddaughter Mackenzie Worley. Her husband LeRoy stayed in town to attend the march in Bellingham and gifted Helen a plane ticket to D.C. for Christmas, just for the occasion.

Helen, her granddaughter and three friends joined hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in D.C.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she said.

Helen said she was honored to walk alongside her granddaughter at a march that represented a variety of backgrounds and political aspirations. Climate change, immigration reform and gender equality were among the myriad of issues brought to the table at the march, she said.

Moving forward, she hopes to keep the pressure on — soon, she’ll be inking letters to her state and local representatives, she said.

“Not engaging,” she said. “That, to me, is the more serious issue.”

Photos by Helen Worley, Chuck Kinzer and Stefanie Donahue.

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