Thousands of people marched down Washington Avenue and flooded West Capitol Park in Albany on Saturday, joining hundreds-of-thousands of people across the nation protesting President Donald Trump’s ascendency to the highest office in the land.
“We have to send a message to President Trump that he needs to bring people together, not build walls,” said Owusu Anane with the Obama Democracy Club of Albany. “When we stand together there’s so much we can accomplish.”
The event, dubbed “Inaugurate Resistance,” was co-sponsored by over two dozen local progressive groups, including the Albany County Central Federation of Labor, the Bernie Sanders Network of the Capital Region, the Schenectady Federation of Teachers and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. The group filled West Capitol Park to capacity, and streets around the park were closed to traffic.
Aliya Saeed, a well-known psychiatrist in Cohoes, addressed the crowd over a sound system and spoke on behalf of the Muslim community.
“He told me that Americans will no longer be ignored,” said Saeed, of Trump. “So here I am, not willing to be ignored.”
Saeed spoke of driving her daughter, who wears a headscarf, to college over a hundred miles away because she’s fearful of her taking public transportation.
“He needs to make sure that my daughter is safe whether she puts a headscarf on her head or not,” said Saeed.
A wide range of issues were represented at the march, with a special emphasis on women’s rights in an apparent nod to the Women’s March on Washington that took place in D.C. and drew some 300,000 people. Similar women-centric marches were organized in other major cities, including New York City and Los Angeles, as well as in foreign cities like Paris, France and Sydney, Australia.
Ashley Kitto of Clifton Park brought a sign she made that had packets of birth control pills taped to it, along with an “I’m with her” placard in support of Hillary Clinton.
“It’s my body and it should be my choice, and if I want to take birth control I should get it for free, and I shouldn’t have some old white man telling me that I can’t,” said Kitto.
Kitto said she started making the sign while watching the presidential debates, and later added the packages of birth control pills.
“I saved them to show that every single day this affects me,” said Kitto. “I take these pills every day, it’s not just a one time thing or a monthly thing, this is affecting me every day.”
Cliff and Pamela Mele of Galway came to the march with their three young children, an 18-month-old girl, and two boys ages five and six.
“We want them to understand what it means to be politically active and involved,” said Pamela Mele.
She added that her kids go into the voting booth when she and her husband vote, even in small local elections.
“We want them to be informed, we want them to have informed choices and decisions, we want them to stand up for what they believe in and know that it’s okay,” said Cliff Mele.
Cliff Mele said Trump is a bigot and a racist who doesn’t respect women.
“He’s very harsh on women and women’s rights and that’s very important to us, especially for our daughter here,” he said. “She has to grow up in a world that’s going to be safe for her.”
Other issues were represented as well. Dan Corda and Anasha Cummings carried a large sign that said “mobile voter registration” and had materials for anyone looking to get registered.
“I often talk about local politics, because that’s a place where people get elected by a margin of 8-10 votes regularly,” said Cummings. “And that’s a level where it really matters to your life.”
Cummings said he also came out to Inaugurate Resistance in support of others who, like himself, see Trump’s victory as a setback for the country.
“Events like this build solidarity between people who, right now, are feeling hurt,” he said. “We’re in a time right now where we’re facing a federal government that is actively hostile to a lot of our interests. And to know that there are this many people that support each other and are going to be there for each other is critical.”
Corda came to the march in solidarity as well and to witness the power of people to speak out and protest.
“I came out today to be with others and feel as part of the movement because it’s easy to be in your own bubble where you think you can’t make a difference,” he said. “But when you see everybody out here and you see the power of the people involved in the community...it really brings a warm feeling where it’s like, ‘ok we can go and do this, we just have to keep going and keep engaging with everybody and talking.’”
Asked what he would say if he had a chance to get a message to Trump, Corda said, “we are your community, don’t let us down. You represent a lot of people who did not vote for you. Make sure that’s on the forefront of your mind.”
Sisters Emma and Abby Fullen said they were encouraged by seeing so many people at the march, but that it would be a more encouraging site to see something like Inaugurate Resistance in places they consider to be Trump strongholds.
“It’s not as courageous as if you were living in, I don’t know, Kansas or Missouri,” said Abby Fullen.
“We didn’t put anything on the line to come out tonight,” added Emma Fullen.
The sisters said they’re looking forward to finding ways to continue to resist the Trump presidency over what they hope will be his first and only term.
“We’re feeling energized to resist for the next four years,” said Emma Fullen. “Half of America is watching him very closely, and we’re going to continue to watch for four years, for the whole term, and we’re staying engaged, we’re not getting complacent.”