More than 800 people turned out Saturday morning at Millennium Plaza for a rally preceding Yakima’s second annual women’s march.
Brandishing signs, the throngs of women, men and children stuck around after the morning’s speakers for the march that followed. Showing solidarity with similar events around the nation, participants from around the Valley waved at passing cars, intermittently chanted and cheered in jubilation as they twisted along the sidewalks of downtown Yakima.
Claire Rudder, a 26-year-old Tri-Cities teacher for the North Franklin School District, said this year’s march felt like a happy recognition of the progress progressives have made since the 2017 inaugural event.
“I went to Los Angeles last year, and it was one of the most inspiring moments in my life. This year, it feels less like a protest and more like a celebration,” Rudder said.
She believes the high turnout shows support for the challenges she and others have overcome throughout the past 12 months.
Eddie Brown, 68, has lived in Yakima for about 37 years.
Brown said he participated in the march for his wife, his mother, his granddaughters, his nieces and his aunts.
“It’s time we stand up and show everyone still has their rights,” Brown said as the march neared its end and he returned to the area of Millennium Plaza.
Brown said he believes the voice of the people is one that’s often missed and that it’s important to him that a presence exists at these events.
Adelaide Anderson, a 17-year-old senior at A.C. Davis High School, said marches such as these continue to be necessary not only because they bring people together but also so participants can see there are others out there who support them and have similar viewpoints.
“I feel a lot are against this,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of hatred, but there’s also a lot of love.”
Naomi Whitmore, 38, is the current chairwoman of Yakima County Democrats, one of the groups that had a hand in coordinating the event.
Like many others present, it was Whitmore’s second year to participate.
She said people may say events like the march don’t matter and don’t change anything, but she disagrees.
“My experience is that it energizes everyone and it raises our confidence that we’re not alone,” Whitmore said.
Rochelle Dunmore, president of Act Yakima, said she was overjoyed with the show of support.
“We’re thankful to everyone that helped organize and everyone that showed up,” Dunmore said.
Noting the year’s theme — “Power to the Polls” — Dunmore said she hopes the energy and momentum will continue with voters as they turn out for approaching elections.