By Zoe Buchli
Marking the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 2,500 Whatcom County residents joined together at Bellingham City Hall on Saturday morning to advocate for equal rights.
Starting at City Hall on Lottie Street, Bellingham Women’s March participants marched through downtown, finishing back at City Hall.
Senior Calum Houston also attended the Bellingham Women’s March last year.
“It’s important to show solidarity in the wake of the most disastrous administration we’ve had in this country,” Houston said.
Lisa Distler is one of the six lead organizers of the event and a Bellingham resident of 57 years.
Distler said the march was independently put together by a group of Whatcom residents who wanted to localize the march and give the Bellingham community a space to participate in the movement.
Fairhaven student and march organizer Erin Lys Jensen said the Bellingham march mirrors the same ideals as the national Women’s March movement.
Jensen said her vision for the march was to continue creating a community of hope that was galvanized in last year’s marches.
Sorrell Joshua, a Bellingham resident who was at last year’s march, said attendees were voicing the same concerns as last year that are still relevant.
“Marches such as these are especially effective for younger generations, because they remind people that they have the right to gather and voice themselves,” Distler said.
Attendance was down from the 10,000 that attended last year, Distler said.
Organizers of the Bellingham Womxn’s March last year, which was directly affiliated with the national Women’s March movement, instead channeled their efforts into the People’s Movement Assembly this year, Jensen said.
The People’s Movement Assembly was organized by local advocacy groups including Community to Community Development, Red Line Salish Sea and the Racial Justice Coalition. Last year’s Womxn’s March Organizers wanted to follow the lead of these groups in creating a more inclusive event, according to their Facebook page.
However, some organizers of this year’s Women’s March felt the events complimented one another.
“I feel like the two can really enhance each other,” Distler said.
Several of the Saturday marchers also planned to attend the People’s Movement Assembly on Sunday, which was organized to address issues people of color face.
The national Women’s March has been met with some criticism, with people saying the movement is not inclusive of womxn of color and the trans and non-binary community.
“Your feminism isn’t useful if it doesn’t stand for all women,” freshman Phoebe DeMeerleer, who attended the march, said.
Bellingham resident Heron Paulson-Quick attended last year’s Bellingham march and believes it’s important that people understand what intersectional feminism is.
“Not all women are going to be marginalized in the same ways, a woman of color is going to have a lot more barriers than a white woman,” Paulson-Quick said.
The march included an opening ceremony that began at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall with various speakers and singers.
Performers from Lummi Nation group The Blackhawks sang and played drums, and led the march when people started walking.
Marchers held signs with an array of messages, including “Hear Us Roar,” “Make feminism intersectional” and “Respect my existence or expect my resisting.”
Many of the issues marchers addressed, such as healthcare rights, LGBTQ+ issues and immigration rights, are in response to the Trump Administration.
Note: Drone footage of the Women’s March previously featured in this story has been removed, as it did not meet Federal Aviation Administration policies.