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Thousands Rally Statewide In Women’s March

Abukar Adan
Maine Public
Ralliers at the State House in Augusta Saturday.

Thousands of people rallied across Maine Saturday as part of the nationwide Women’s March in protest of the Trump administration’s policies.

Around the State House and Capital Park in Augusta, more than 2,000 people of all ages and ethnicities — many them carrying decorative signs and sporting pink hats — gathered to hear from the speakers.

Organizer Jennifer Jones says the turnout far exceeded her expectations.

“There were marches that started at the Capital Park and they were still coming when the other ones ended. So, it was an enormous crowd,” she says.

Credit Abukar Adan / Maine Public
Maine Public
Organizer Jennifer Jones makes opening remarks.

This year’s Women’s March was smaller in size than last year’s, which drew about 5,000 people, and the aim of the rally also was different — the first was in response to President Donald Trump’s election, and organizers say this event is directed at the future.

State Sen. Shenna Bellows, who was among the speakers, says she doesn’t feel less fear than a year ago, but feels hopeful and urged the crowd to become politically active.

“Run for something. We cannot wait for one perfect leader to save our future. Saving our future starts with us,” she says.

Fatuma Hussein, who heads United Somali Women of Maine, shared the contributions Somali immigrants have made to the state and said that her community shouldn’t be the only one building bridges.

“I think we all have a responsibility to say what we need to do to build communities, to build bridges and to accept and tolerate all of us, because that is what overcomes fear, that’s what keeps the bigots quiet and that’s what progresses all of us to be a healthy, equitable, tolerant Maine,” she says.

Credit Abukar Adan / Maine Public
Maine Public
Fatuma Hussein speaks about the contributions Somali immigrants have made in Lewiston and Maine.

Over a dozen people spoke, including a DACA recipient who asked to remain anonymous, June Sapiel of the Penobscot Nation and transgender advocate Quinn Gormley.

Michelle Fournier of Falmouth says she came to the rally for many reasons.

“I am very concerned about human rights, minority rights, trans rights, women’s rights. I am concerned about the environment, what’s happening to this planet. There’s so many things it’s hard to pin it down,” she says.

Rally-goer Bo Greene of Bar Harbor says the stakes have become too high, and it’s time to act.

“Can’t sit around. Can’t watch from the sidelines, with all of this and we’ve been resisting for a year and there were a bunch of events around, but I wasn’t able to go to D.C. last year. So, being a part of something big felt really important,” she says.

The Women’s March were also organized in other parts of the state, including Portland, Bangor and Bar Harbor.

This story was originally published Jan. 20, 2018 at 9:07 p.m. ET.