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Fourth Portland Women's March Focuses On Facilitating Connections In The Community

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Caitlin Troutman
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Maine Public
For the fourth year, protesters convened in Portland Saturday for the now-annual Women's March.

Several hundred protesters braved the twelve-degree temperatures in Portland Saturday to join the fourth annual Women's March.

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Credit Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public
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Maine Public
The crowd assembled at Monument Square Saturday morning, then marched to Portland High School to hear a series of speakers.

The first women’s march three years ago, which drew an estimated 10,000 people to Portland, was held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. This year, many marchers said the 2020 election and President Trump’s impeachment trial was front of mind.

“I really want Senator [Susan] Collins to be aware that those of us who are Democrats who may have voted for her in the past are not going to do it anymore if she doesn't stand up, and, especially, demand that we see witnesses at the impeachment trial,” said Cathy Walter, who said she has attended the march every year.

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Credit Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Cathy Walter has attended the march every year.

The crowd assembled at Monument Square Saturday morning, then marched to Portland High School to hear a series of speakers, including 13-year old climate activist Anna Siegel.

“To solve the climate crisis, we need to include everyone into the conversation,” Siegel said. “And as women are half of the world's population, our voices need to be valued and given the same respect, so we can work towards eliminating fossil fuels. Only by having women in the sciences, women's names on research papers, can we achieve an equitable and livable future.”

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Credit Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Anna Siegel is a climate activist

Other speakers represented the Poor People's Campaign, Maine Trans Net and Presente Maine.

And for the march’s fourth year, Portland organizers decided to try something new. They decided to provide an indoor fair to allow marchers to connect with community activist groups.

“We're highlighting social justice organizations from around our community through a tabling fair inside Portland High School right after this march, so that we can really help people build that next bit of connection to doing the work that has to get done for 2020,” said a member of the Women's March planning committee, Kim Simmons.

Several organizations, including the Poor People’s Campaign, Youth Climate Strike and the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, had tables at the fair. Local vendors, like Portland’s Holy Donut and Coffee By Design, also donated refreshments. Organizers said that part of the reason they implemented the fair this year was to help people become involved in local movements, whether they are already activists or not.

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Credit Caitlin Troutman / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Organizers decided to provide an indoor fair to allow marchers to connect with community activist groups.

“We know that people who come into the work through these big protest events and marches go on to do all kinds of other civic engagement and volunteer work. They're working on campaigns, they're building community resources,” said Simmons. “And we still wanted to make sure that there was still a way for folks who are kind of new or looking for another way to get involved to do that.”

Portland's march was one of more than 200 held around the world Saturday.

Updated 10:14 a.m. Sunday January 19, 2020