About 220 women, men and children – and about a dozen dogs – showed up at Ketchikan’s downtown dock on a cold, bright morning Saturday to demonstrate for women’s rights. It was part of a worldwide demonstration in response to the inauguration Friday of President Donald Trump.
Ketchikan’s Women’s March started with a group rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, led by Shauna Lee.
Following that inspirational opening, various speakers at the event urged those in the crowd to work for equal rights for everyone.
Evelyn Erbele, minister at First United Methodist Church, said she’s not an optimist – they believe everything will turn out fine. She’s not a pessimist, either – she believes things can get better.
Erbele said, she has faith and hope.
“Let me quote scripture. I’m a clergyperson, we’re supposed to do that,” she said. “So, in Mica Chapter 6, Verse 8, when the people are saying, ‘What are we supposed to do and how are we supposed to behave,’ God said to the people: ‘Do justice, act with mercy and love kindness.’”
Cameo McRoberts belted out a few verses of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” and then encouraged everyone to get involved, starting on the local level.
“We live in a community where you can be on city council, you can be on the school board, you can be the leader of an organization, you can sit on the board of an organization, you can own a business you can raise your children to be whatever they want to be,” she said. “There are so many things you can do on this little island with 32 miles of road that affect the rest of the world, so please do them.”
Lisa Lang traveled from Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island to join Ketchikan’s march. She gave a shoutout to all the other marchers around the world who gathered that day to demonstrate for women’s rights.
Lang’s message was the power of the collective.
“We need to unite, collectively,” she said. “Because the people who have been hurt recently, we are women. Women of color, women of different religions, disabled women, veteran women, everybody needs to come together because collectively your voice will mean something. I come from a village of 400. They say, ‘Oh, your voice doesn’t count.’ Make it count.”
Lang urged those at the event to contact their congressional representatives and give their opinions to those lawmakers.
Valerie Brooks carried a sign that said, simply, “resist.”
“We stand to resist their agenda, we stand for ending violence against women – all women: Black women, Native women, immigrants, minorities, poor women, disabled and differently abled women,” she said. “We stand for reproductive rights and we resist attacks on them.”
Brooks said she also stands for gay rights, human rights, equal pay, living wages and non-discrimination.
After about an hour of speakers, the march began. It was a fairly short stroll along Ketchikan’s cruise dock, lasting a total of about 20 minutes.
Some passing vehicles honked in support, and as the group marched by the Arctic Bar, business owner Paula Weisel showed up on the deck with her sound-effects megaphone, blasting a siren and yelling, “Go women!”
Among the marchers was Marcy Ugstad. She said she knows many people who marched all over the United States, and she was happy to learn that Ketchikan would have its own demonstration.
Ugstad said there are many ways for concerned citizens to do more than just march.
“Help out where you can, volunteer where you can. Even if you only have an hour a week or two hours a week, there are so many local programs that need assistance like WISH (Women in Safe Homes) and some of the suicide hotlines, things like that,” she said. “Be a part, be engaged, be an American.”
That was the takeaway message of the march in Ketchikan: Get involved. Stay involved.