Boise & Garden City

5,000 attend Boise’s Women’s March: ‘[Trump] is our leader now. ... It’s important we have a voice’

Thousands gather for Women’s March on Idaho

As many as 5,000 women and human-rights supporters gather at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March through Downtown Boise on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
Up Next
As many as 5,000 women and human-rights supporters gather at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March through Downtown Boise on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

LaDonna Readmond has felt moved to be part of a public demonstration only a few times in her life — the first was after civil-rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

The 75-year-old retired teacher, along with her daughter and granddaughter, was on the march again Saturday in Downtown Boise. They were among 5,000 participants in the Women’s March on Idaho, which drew a crowd that was about 40 percent men and included many children, dogs and at least one pet ferret.

It was one of more than 670 women’s marches around the world, including several in Idaho (including Driggs, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Moscow, Pocatello, Sandpoint and Stanley). Heavy snow began to fall in Boise as marchers gathered at 10 a.m on the Idaho State Capitol steps, and that later turned to rain.

A Washington, D.C. official says the estimated turnout for the Women's March in the city now stands at a half a million. It is about double the amount of people who showed up to President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Participants held signs with a wide range of political messages, including “Climate change is real,” “Babies against bigots” and “Fight sexism.” Some wore hats with ears, which have been dubbed Pussyhats.

Most of more than a dozen marchers who the Statesman spoke with had grave concerns about where the country is headed under President Donald Trump. Several said they planned to continue to speak out and resist what they worry would be rollbacks in civil and reproductive rights, as well as rising health care costs.

“It’s about equal rights and maintaining our American freedoms — freedom of religion,” Readmond said.

Readmond’s worried about the civil rights of her gay relatives and access to women’s health care, including affordable birth control, under President Donald Trump. Her daughter, Jessica, 37, doesn’t want to see the Affordable Care Act repealed.

“Literally, it saved my family,” she said, explaining that she had a difficult pregnancy and would have incurred massive debt without access to insurance.

Boisean Elaine Keogh, a 65-year-old retired special education director, rode her bike to the march. She stood in a line of about 35 people to get a cup of coffee at Dawson Taylor before it started.

“I’m here because I want to support the women’s movement in solidarity against anything that might put it in jeopardy,” she said. “[Trump] is our leader now, and that’s the reason I think it’s important we have a voice.”

Boisean Emily Dixon, 29, said she is disturbed about comments Trump made in a private conversation that was recorded about grabbing women’s private parts. She was surprised people still voted for him.

“He’s bragging about sexually assaulting women. We’re supposed to look up to someone like that?” she said.

Her husband, Brent Thorsen, 30, held a sign that read, “You can’t comb over misogyny.”

“[Trump] hasn’t really ever done anything good for women that I’ve ever seen,” Dixon said.

“Except beauty pageants,” Thorsen added.

Kathy Clark, 68, braved difficult road conditions in a three-hour drive from Bellevue to be at the Boise march. She brought her Sussex spaniel, Jack, who had his own Pussyhat.

Clark is a staunch supporter of abortion rights and doesn’t want to see new restrictions.

“I had to have an illegal abortion in 1967, and I almost died,” she said. She doesn’t want to see any woman go through what she did.

There were a handful of pro-life activists at the march.

Scott Herndon, who traveled to Boise from Coeur d’Alene, spoke to passersby with a megaphone. He told one man who stopped to chat that he didn’t vote for Trump because he doesn’t like the way Trump treats women.

Herndon was promoting an initiative that would outlaw abortion in Idaho and make it a crime (first-degree murder).

“We’d like to see protection for women from conception to death,” he told the Statesman. One of his five daughters joined him at the march Saturday.

Boisean Cady McGovern, 35, was at the march with her husband, father-in-law and brother. She carried a sign that read, “Please keep your tiny government out of my vagina.”

McGovern is concerned about protecting women’s reproductive choices in the Trump era. She fears higher birth control costs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and funding cuts for women’s health services.

She said she used to keep her opinions to herself to “keep the peace.” Not anymore. She feels that Trump is disrespectful to women.

“I am disgusted, to put it mildly,” she said. “I find him repulsive in every way.”

In Washington, D.C., the turnout estimate for the Women’s March on the National Mall was put at more than 500,000 people. That’s more than double the initial predictions.

Estimates showed Saturday’s crowds could top those that gathered on Friday to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Hundreds of thousands of women massed in the nation’s capital and cities around the globe Saturday to send Trump an emphatic message that they won’t let his agenda go unchallenged over the next four years.

More than 600 “sister marches” were planned across the country and around the world. Organizers estimated 3 million would march worldwide.

The plethora of women’s marches across the country were a mystery to women who attended the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., Friday.

“I think it’s great, do your thing, but I just don’t know what they’re doing it for. They’re talking about rights, women’s rights, but what rights are being taken away from any women?” asked Susan Clarke, a 50-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina.

More than a dozen women interviewed at the inauguration by McClatchy felt the women’s marches are divisive distraction at a time when the country should be unifying under a new leader.

Organizers of the national Women’s March clarified in a mission statement posted online some of the motivations behind the movement.

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault — and our communities are hurting and scared.”

The Women’s March on Idaho was organized by high school students Colette Raptosh, a Capital High School junior, and Nora Harren, a senior at Borah High School.

Both were too young to vote in this election but they were pulling for Hillary Clinton. The girls, who founded a group called People for Unity, had success in organizing a rally at the Idaho State Capitol following the election, so they decided to rally local women — and men — to participate in Saturday’s Women’s March.

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton sent a tweet citing the Boise march. “I stand w/ Nora Harren, a 17-year-old from Boise, ID, & every person marching for our values today. Onward! #WomensMarch.”

In the Central Idaho mountain town of Stanley, legendary singer-songwriter Carole King joined the march of more than 30 people — about half the town’s official population of 63.

From the march in Washington, D.C., via Carolyn Cakir, Medill News Service:

Idahoans Karen Meyer, a Boise philanthropist, and Karen Day, a documentary filmmaker, are in Washington, D.C., for the march.

Day said that she is marching to “demonstrate that we, as women and Americans, will not go backwards in our fight for equality.”

Meyer said that she hopes the sheer scale of the demonstration will be enough to get the attention of elected officials.

“I’m unfortunately feeling very unrepresented,” she said. “I almost feel like our elected officials feel like it doesn’t matter anymore what the voters think, because they win anyway.”

Boise attorney Terri Pickens, 44, is also in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Maya for the march.

“I want my daughter to know, at 12 years old, that this is the behavior that gets us somewhere,” she said. “Staying back and hoping someone else will take care of it for you doesn’t work anymore.”

Read more about the Idahoans in D.C. for the national march here.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller. The Associated Press and reporters from McClatchy News Service contributed to this story.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman