UNITY in the Community

St. Augustine March draws thousands in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington

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Saturday's Unity in Community March in St. Augustine was one of hundreds held across the U.S. and world that day in solidarity with the record breaking Women’s March on Washington.

The Women’s March on Washington’s website states, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths, particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

In St. Augustine on January 21, demonstrators said they were seeking respect, acceptance and equal rights for all humans.

Sister marches took place in more than a dozen other cities in the state, over 600 across the county, and on every single continent in the world.

Like the Women’s March on Washington, the march in St. Augustine was not merely an anti-Trump rally, it was an opportunity for members of the community to support each other, publicly and fervently.

Marchers of all ages, genders, races and sexual orientations patiently mingled at the foot of the Bridge of Lions as they waited for the march to begin at 1 p.m.

Supporters were still arriving as chants of “Love trumps hate!” rang through the air. Cars driving past the crowd honked in solidarity; two women in a vehicle flashed the crowd, cheering on their fellow protestors. The atmosphere was positive and refreshing.

Millennials were well represented at this event, leading chants such as, “My body, My choice!” and “No Trump, No KKK, No racist U.S.A.!”

St. Augustine native and University of North Florida political science major, Seth Campbell, said, “The problem is red county Democrats are more invisible than blue county Republicans, so I felt like I had to show the world that we exist. Red counties are not the bastions of unity and solidarity and uniformity that people would dismissively think.”

Parents brought their young sons and daughters to join the action. Women donned “pussy hats,” and one man proudly wore a shirt that read, “This bad hombre loves his nasty woman.”

“I’m just very blown away that a lot of people are here to support peace,” said 29-year-old teacher, Chanel Collin.

By the end of the march, over 2,000 people showed up to march in what one of the speakers said was the oldest public gathering space in U.S. history.

The temperature in the Plaza de la Constitucion climbed to an unseasonable nearly 90 degrees this January day. The heat didn't faze the marchers.

Jena Sadd came from Jacksonville to participate in the march, even though Jacksonville had its own march. “I’m from Jacksonville but I just thought it would be better to come down here,” Sadd said. “There’s so much history here, so it made sense.”

At one point a man arrived to counter protest, bearing a Bible and a sign that said “Abortion kills children.” The crowd around him chanted, “When you go low, we go hi!” and one young woman hit his sign. A young man then ripped up the sign and threw it on the ground.

Some fellow marchers were disappointed in these actions, having hoped for the event to end without any negativity. But the tension soon settled and the crowd refocused on the band and speakers taking the stage. 

Throughout the rest of the event, people peacefully sang along, chanted together and engaged in conversation with likeminded members of their community.

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