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From Juneau to Nome, Alaskans gather for Women’s March rallies

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: January 20
  • Published January 20

Thousands of Alaskans gathered in communities across the state Saturday for the second iteration of the Women's March, held in solidarity with cities across the United States and the globe.

In Anchorage, organizers estimated more than 3,000 people marched along snowy city sidewalks, many dressed in pink and waving handmade signs in temperatures that hovered around 13 degrees.

"We're fighting for their rights as women and their future," said Nena Robb, of Anchorage, pointing to her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, and 12-year-old daughter, Nicole.

The marchers protested President Donald Trump and his administration's policies. They encouraged people to vote. Their signs highlighted a broad range of issues, including reproductive rights, immigration reform, civil rights and climate change. Some of the messages read: "We need a leader not a Tweeter"; "Grab 'em by the midterms"; "Protect the earth, believe in science"; "Use your voice, use your vote"; "So bad even introverts are here!"; and "RIP the patriarchy."

"I'm marching for women's rights and I'm marching for human rights," said Donna Russell, of Anchorage. "I'm 76 years old, I grew up in the South, I lived through Jim Crow, I don't want us to go back to the era. I want our progress to continue like it was under Obama."

Justin Tapp, 35, said he was marching Saturday for women's rights and women's empowerment, just as he did last year in Anchorage.

"I think the administration has shown that they don't care about these issues and it's important to show them that we do and we're not going to stop or be silent or be complicit," he said.

Rashika Rakibullah, an organizer of the Anchorage march, said this year's demonstration aimed to encourage more people to register to vote and more women to run for office. In Anchorage, she said, organizers also wanted to educate people about the new vote-by-mail system ahead of the municipal election in April.

"The focus of this year's march is 'Power to the Polls,' " Rakibullah said. "And just like last year, we're standing in solidarity with all marginalized communities that are feeling attacked."

Similar marches took place across Alaska on Saturday in communities including Fairbanks, Juneau, Bethel, Petersburg, Kodiak and Nome.

In Homer, more than 600 marchers snaked down Pioneer Avenue, which was the scene last summer of a bitter city council recall fight over anti-Trump language in a resolution backing "tolerance."

Rachel Lord, a new city council member elected in a landslide vote in the fall, after the recall failed, was one of five women to speak at the end of the Homer march. She urged marchers to get involved in politics and nonprofits, and to "push back against the polarization and the separation of issues into black and white. It won't make you less of a resistor, thoughtfully listening won't diminish your ideals or your principles."

The Women’s March in Ketchikan, Jan. 20, 2018. (Marc Osborne)

In Ketchikan, roughly 150 people gathered on a cold, windy and cloudy Saturday, said Hannah Bayles, one of the organizers of the march. She said the event included an opening blessing and community speakers. The group then marched while singing "Lean on Me."

"It was really cool and powerful," said Bayles, 22.

In Gustavus, about 90 of the community's 400 residents turned out for the march. They ranged in age from someone in their mid-90s to an 8 or 9 month old, said one of the organizers, Kimber Owen.

Some carried American flags. Many carried signs with messages including "Diversity is our Strength" and "We are all of the same stardust." The community called the event "The Gustavus March for Humanity."

"Peoples of both parties in this community feel very anxious and it was a way to come together and talk about the issues and what we can do," Owen, 60, said.

"We want to remind people how important it is to get out and vote. You can make the change you want to see in this world."

Tom Kizzia contributed reporting from Homer.

The Women’s March in Gustavus, Jan. 20, 2018. (Sean Neilson)
The Women’s March in Nome, Jan. 20, 2018. (Jenny Mills)
Kerri Willoughby speaks to the crowd gathered at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau on Jan. 20, 2018 during the Juneau Women’s March. (Nathaniel Herz / ADN)
The Many Voices Unity & Justice Walk in Soldotna, Jan. 20, 2018. (Michele Vasquez)
Over 100 people showed up for the Petersburg’s Women March, also called the March for Love. It was organized locally by Erin Kandoll, Chelsea Tremblay and Malena Marvin. (Mary Koppes)
Gil Mayforth, left, as Inez, Working Woman of the Earth, and Charles Aguilar, right, as the president. Among the 650 marchers in Homer. (Tom Kizzia)
The Women’s March in Bethel, Jan. 20, 2018. (Lisa Demer / ADN)

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