Women’s March encourages empowerment in Omaha

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Photo courtesy of Torie Walenz

Men and women from around the Omaha metro area gathered at the CenturyLink Center to peacefully protest Trump's inauguration.

Bex Rangel, Reporter

Only a day after president Donald Trump’s inauguration, women, people of color, men, and children laughed, cheered, and shouted out against his presidency as they became a steady stream gliding slowly through downtown Omaha. Glittery, colorfully-worded posters, some of which were being finalized at the front of the CenturyLink Center building, were present in the crowd. With phones out to capture the first moments, the march for the protection of sisterhood began.

“There’s so much to say about the election and society as a whole and how women are viewed that there just needs to be more action taken for women,” senior Cassie Wilson said.

The Women’s March on Omaha was part of other sister marches all over the world, many resulting in like numbers. Erica Chenoweth, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Denver, and Jeremy Pressman, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, collected data of march attendances and spoke to the news site Vox.

“Even using a conservative estimate, it was the single largest day for a demonstration in the US,” Chenoweth told Vox.

They estimated at least 12,000 people attended the march in Omaha.

“We need to feel empowered and feel like we are validated in this society,” senior Torie Walenz said. “I feel like Donald Trump has morphed into this symbol for female sexual harassment and assault and this society is willing to just scrape that away and ignore it for other means. It shouldn’t be okay to brag about sexual assault. We should honor women as people.”

The sentiment was shared by attendees, as a group of adults started a beat and used phrases such as “Love, not hate, makes America great,” to get their message across. As the march reached the heart of downtown, passing shops like Drastic Plastic Underground, two male tenants popped their heads out of their window, cheering just as loudly with the crowd.

“I felt proud to be there,” junior Asja Woodard said. “It felt amazing to be a part of something that you could consider history.”

Though the attendance was primarily positive, there was slight resistance–a protest of the protest. Two motorcyclists pressed on their gas, intentionally filling the air with the fumes from their engine, the smell of metal and burnt wood coming from behind police tape. There was also an anti-abortion poster on the sideline, which held a gory image of a third-trimester miscarriage. However, Walenz, who has been to other marches and protests before, was impressed.

“We met such little resistance,” she said. “It was a positive experience.”

In regards the number of people, the presence of encouragement was strongly felt by marchers interviewed.

“I was really excited because there was just so much energy there,” junior Franchesca Handlos said. “It just sticks with you, seeing all of those people.”