INDIANAPOLIS — More than 7,500 demonstrators gathered on the Statehouse lawn in Indianapolis on Saturday to protest and to hear activists and community organizers from across the state speak.
Many wore pink hats with ears to show solidarity with . People sang “We Will Overcome” and “We Are One” in unison. They came bearing signs and T-shirts supporting women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights and environmental justice.
The rally was just one of more than six hundred rallies and demonstrations for women’s rights worldwide.
“It’s a big deal for us to be able to represent ourselves and to be able to show that we’re not going to stand by while other people tell us what we need to do,” said Mariam Ali from Indianapolis.
For Mariam, motivation to attend the Women’s March rally comes not only from her gender, but also from her religion, she said.
“As a Muslim I believe that everything happens for a reason, and whether it’s good or bad it’s good because God knows what’s best for us,” Ali said. “Hopefully this reason will be that it is allowing us to unite together and work together.”
Other attendees were not so optimistic about the next four years, and many expressed a fear of losing many of their civil rights.
“I think he’s going to try to take away our rights—some of our rights that we’ve already fought for,” said Ayana Stanley Jones, an organizer for Indy10 Black Lives Matter.
Jones’ own experiences with racism and misogyny have shaped her views and support of black liberation and rights for women of color.
“As a black woman I have faced racism,” Jones said. “I faced abuse from men and men saying things like ‘you’re pretty for a black girl.’”
Many men also came out to show support the Women’s March and stressed the importance of male involvement in women’s rights movements.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that women aren’t treated the same as men,” Colin Nesbit from Indianapolis said. “If anyone tried to take away any men’s rights there would be rioting in the streets and things would be on fire.”
Brett Morgan, a sophomore at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis, said he didn’t know why the march wasn’t important to everybody, regardless of gender.
“We’re all born from women,” Morgan said. “I mean, I find reproductive rights extremely important, women’s representation, everything.”
“Girls get glittered,” Anne Gross, a 24-year-old from Indianapolis, said while standing on a platform. She poured glitter on people passing underneath her.
“I came here to feel as one with everyone — to know I’m not alone,” Gross said. “So I’m spreading glitter for girls to spread hope and love and just know no one is alone. We’re all here. Whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, we’re all here.”
Signs bore slogans such as “Tell Trump: It is Unamerican to ban Muslims,” “Our rights are not up for grabs. Neither are we” and “Pussy grabs back.”
“I think one of the biggest things is just to be there for people who feel forgotten,” said Lily Schwab, a sophomore from Ball State.
Former Hillary Clinton campaigner Terri Siler organized the event. Speakers encouraged unity, determination and community.
“Maybe we got a little complacent in 2008 because we elected a black president, and it’s like ‘oh, we’re post-racial,’ but this election showed us we have so much further to go as a nation,” said Dana Black, a 2016 democratic candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives. “To see all these people out here lets me know that there are a lot of people that are fired up.”
Hannah Reed contributed reporting