March is still on, but no Lincoln Memorial
Since Election Day, women have been organizing a march on Washington – a march the President-elect and his team have stymied at every turn. The Women’s March on Washington was barred from all major Washington, DC landmarks, including the march’s hoped-for venue, the Lincoln Memorial. Despite Trump’s efforts, the March is still due to take place the day after Trump’s inauguration, and organizers have now specified a starting point.
“People from across the nation will gather at the intersection of Independence Ave and Third Ave SW, near the U.S. Capitol, at 10:00am” on Saturday, Jan. 21, march organizers said in a statement on Friday.
According to its founders, the Women’s March on Washington will “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” This reflects the March’s beginnings, which came about because of Trump’s demeaning rhetoric towards women and minorities. Combined with the highly anticipated Hillary Clinton victory, women across America were mobilized to keep up the fight for women’s and minorities’ issues, including reproductive rights and rumored Muslim registries.
The National Park Service barred the March from several historic sites because the Presidential Inauguration Committee had already secured what The Guardian calls “large swaths” of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial “for the inauguration festivities.” On behalf of the Committee, the National Park Service “filed a massive omnibus blocking permit” for many of DC’s historic and important locations. That left many seeing the Women’s March as shut out from the city, and possibly from happening at all. Shutting down the voices of liberal women would be yet another victory for the President-elect and his administration.
Banning these “historic spaces for dissent” is “extremely unique,” said executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund Mara Verheyden-Hilliard at a press conference for ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). The National Park Service claims that it’s simply a matter of the Presidential Inauguration Committee submitting its application first, and that it “continues to work” with non-profit Gathering for Justice, “which is helping to organize the march.” But it’s just another distraction from women’s rights in general – the focus becomes a logistical quagmire about location and permitting rather than a discussion about women’s issues.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee, by reserving these spots for days and weeks before and after the Inauguration, lays exclusive claim to these historic sites of dissent – particularly the Lincoln Memorial, associated with the famous 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, whose name the Women’s March on Washington seeks to emulate. Early on, women had called for the March to include to the Memorial, and despite the venue announcement, the Women’s March on Washington Facebook Event Page still lists its location as the Lincoln Memorial.
According to Facebook, 142,000 women are listed as “going” to the March, with another 230,000 “interested” in attending. You can now “register” to attend on the website itself – “not required, but greatly helpful for planning!” says the pinned Facebook post.
The Women’s March on Washington official FAQ says they will continue to “to work closely with all of the relevant police entities, over the coming weeks, to ensure a safe march with all logistics in place to accommodate the number of people we anticipate convening.” More detailed route information will not be released for some time due to security concerns. And, most likely, to stop the President-elect from meddling further.