The Women’s March at the Unconditional Surrender Statue in Downtown Sarasota on Saturday, Oct. 18 brought around 800 attendees to show their support for women’s rights. The event started with the marchers lining up along Bayshore Drive waving, yelling and showcasing their signs to the cars passing by. Then everyone marched across the John Ringling Causeway and back, ending again at the statue.
Although the rally was billed for women’s rights, most of the protesters outwardly showed their support for Joseph Biden’s presidential campaign. One marcher said that this was because “the president is the most immediate threat to women and minorities and winning the election is the first step [to fixing all of the damage that he has done].” Many protesters encouraged others to vote.
Others carried flags, signs, wore t-shirts and buttons, supporting other causes, such as Black Lives Matter, Pride, immigrant rights, trans rights, global warming, and many others. Many protesters evoked the memory of the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with shirts and signs reading “Ruth sent me.” Everyone there was fighting for their own rights as well as the rights of others.
As expected, there were a few hecklers who yelled at the marchers. One man in a car with a Trump bumper sticker said to “find something better to do.” Others yelled profanities and offered protesters the middle finger, however, no physical altercations occurred and the protesters largely ignored the hecklers.
Every protester wore a mask, with the exception of a few kids. Most attendees wore their masks correctly, with both the mouth and nose covered. When anyone stopped to take a drink or get a snack, they often moved aside, getting as far away from the crowd as possible. Many people had hand sanitizer and offered it to marchers around them. Safety remained a priority throughout the march.
One woman spoke about her experience giving a child up for adoption. She said that she was unmarried and without a steady income or insurance in the early sixties. She could not terminate the pregnancy despite her wishes to do so and was forced to carry the baby to term. The woman was shamed for this and said that it affected her mental health for a long time. She marched to ensure bodily autonomy for all so no one else has to suffer as she did.
Second-year Claire Thomas marched in heels as a “testament to the things women can do not just because they have to but because they want to.” She walked about six miles and only took her shoes off twice. Visiting student Catelyn Errington, who attended alongside Thomas, marched “because she refuses to be a victim.” She said that she “will not give [her] rights away silently and will not let the rights of the silenced be taken so easily.”
Daniela Hurtado from ABC 7 Sarasota filmed and interviewed Thomas and Errington. They were chosen because they are both first time presidential voters. Hurtado asked what brought them to the march and what voting in a presidential election for the first time meant to them. Thomas responded that “I’m really glad I can finally participate in my democracy. I feel like I can get my voice heard now.” Errington spoke of her desire to make sure her voice and opinions are heard, in and outside of the polls. Thomas and Errington encouraged all viewers to vote in the presidential election.
Holly Penta marched alongside Thomas and Errington and was also interviewed by Daniela Hurtado.