LIVE COVERAGE: Valley protesters in Women's March on Washington

  • A crowd at the Women's March on Washington Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Gazette Staff/Emily Cutts

Published: 1/21/2017 9:52:25 AM

WASHINGTON — Thousands of women are expected to take part in a march today, demonstrating for the rights of women and protesting the policies of the incoming administration.

Gazette reporter Emily Cutts and photographer Kevin Gutting are in Washington today, and will report on The Women’s March on Washington from start to finish.

6:25 p.m.

Half of the group is back on the bus, and spirits seem to still be high despite sore feet and aching backs.

For Leah Reed, the day was great.

“The atmosphere was welcoming; saw some interesting signs,” Reed said.

Looking through photos on her phone, Reed shows off her favorites as well as some of the more risque designs.

Laughing about some of the pictures Reed took, Priscilla Finn, 66, commented that the signs should be made into a book for a fundraiser.

In addition to admiring the artwork, Finn also took a photo with a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln.

“There were just people everywhere,” she said. “I've never seen so many people.”

Moving forward, Jack Finn said he and Priscilla were trying to decide which organization they wanted to work with.

Even living in a democratic city in a democratic leaning state, Jack Finn said they still need to reach out to people.

“We have a real sense of urgency now,” Priscilla Finn said.

Hopeful for the first time since November, Amalia FourHawks said she was both exhausted and exhilarated “to see the numbers of people that are willing to stand up and say no to this maniac.”

FourHawks said she's learned more about civics and how the government works.

“Now I know what had to happen,” she said.

4 p.m.

We walked past the Trump Hotel. The crowd got audibly louder, their middle fingers went up, and shouts such as “Shame!” were heard. Another chant in front of the hotel said “Welcome to your first day. We will not go away.”

3 p.m.

Leverett resident Millie Thayer, 64, flew down Friday afternoon to join her friend Lois Wessell, of Takoma Park, Maryland. The two joined about six others on one of the 31 buses that left the Maryland area.

Wearing her pinkish coral pussy cat hat, made by a friend, Thayer reflected on the day from the lawn of the Ellipse, just outside the White House. She said there were many reasons she wanted to come, including climate change, racism and immigration.

Following the march, Thayer said she felt uplifted by the diversity of the issues represented.

Not far from Thayer, a human wall had been formed by men and women in white jumpsuits. Painted on the uniform were brick shapes and hurtful words heard throughout the election season, like slob, bimbo and dog.

2:15 p.m.

There are people literally everywhere. It doesn't seem like the march is going to happen. Someone said Washington Post reported that it's bigger than expected and there's not going to be a formal march. As as we know, nothing's been said, but we are not yet in a place to hear the rally.

We moved a little bit further down the mall and were able to hear Alicia Keys and Janelle Monáe speak. Now we are trying to make our way to the White House. The initial plan for the march was to end at the White House, so that's why we're going there: to see what's happening next.

1:30 p.m.

Haven't started moving yet. We can hear chanting and cheering coming from around the corner but not well enough to understand it.

12:30 p.m.

Kevin and I have been reunited after about an hour apart.

I needed to use the portable toilets, and Kevin went to count the line and take photos. There were probably 250 people ahead of me in line for four toilets; I waited for about half an hour before I gave up. There were even lines to use a bush next to a building.

I was worried that Kevin and I wouldn’t be able to find each other again, but we did. Now we are marching down Avenue C.

11 a.m.

We’re nearing Independence and 3rd where the rally stage is.

We’re surrounded by men and women of all ages and colors. Signs of all different varieties including a uterus giving the middle finger, “this was not supposed to happen,” “Dumbledore’s Army,” and too many more to count. We’re near the rally stage but we can’t hear anything. That doesn’t seem to dampen the spirits of those around me. Walking past some police officers earlier, a few people could be heard saying “Thank you.”

10:30 a.m.

We’re heading toward the White House. We can see hundreds of people walking. The crowd is pretty subdued, but keeps moving. Every now and again there’s a chant or two, but right now we’re just walking, trying to find where the rally location is – which started at 10. A lot of people are carrying flags and signs. I’ve seen one person in a Trump sweatshirt, but that’s about it.

9:35 a.m.

Walking to the portable toilets before heading off on the two-mile walk to the rally site, Amalia FourHawks, 59, of Florence, said said she was feeling anxious.

“I had to (march); I had to be here,” FourHawks said. “Because the thought of a future in the hands of someone like this is too terrifying not to speak up.”

8:30 a.m.

We are still in the bus but we’re hearing we’re about 20 minutes out from our destination.

Voices are generally subdued but there is some laughter still. Many are beginning to talk logistics of what to bring, if there will be time to buy a metro ticket and where they are trying to meet others.

Karen, 61, of Conway, asked that her last name not be used and said she was feeling anxious. She was planning to meet up with friends who also left from the Northampton area, but they arrived earlier and were waiting.

She said she had never having taken part in something like this before, and was marching to stand up for respect and kindness for all.

“I’m the mother of an adult daughter, a daughter of color, and this is the world she is going to inherit,” Karen said.

4:30 a.m.

We’ve stopped somewhere in New Jersey with at least a dozen other buses. The sign near the entrance to the women’s bathroom said we’re about 200 miles from D.C.

Even at this late/early hour most people seem to be in good spirits. The line for the bathrooms, both men and women’s, were long but moved quickly.

One woman in line for the men’s room could be heard yelling “this is what equality looks like.”

I must have slept since getting in the bus in Northampton but I don’t feel very rested. I heard the same sentiment from someone else on the bus as well.

12:57 a.m.

The bus is almost filled to capacity – mostly women but a few men are on the bus as well. In the last few minutes before 1 a.m., there was a brief, frantic shuffle to make sure no other people were yet to arrive. The bus has taken off but not to hit the road just yet as we search to find a bathroom.

Sitting at the front of the bus are Northampton couple Priscilla Finn, 66, and her husband Jack Finn, 68 and Pittsfield mother and daughter Leah Reed, 38, and Shanyse-Yasmine, 13.

Jack Finn has marched against the Vietnam war and on the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. march.

Finn said he was going to the march to hold Trump accountable to the people.

“To all the people, not just the ones who voted for him,” Finn said. “It’s the beginning of the process. People have to stand up.”

Leah Reed is the vice-president of the Berkshire NAACP chapter. She said that as a black woman, she wanted to make sure she came and brought her daughter with her.

“As a mother, I want to show we’re valuable ” Reed said. “We can affect change in a positive way.”

Shanyse-Yasmine said she came to support her mom as well as help people to have the courage to stand up for things.

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