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Women protest Trump policies, highlight political gains during third annual march in Baltimore

Participants during the annual Baltimore Women's March at City Hall. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)

Chanting “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Donald Trump has got to go,” hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets around City Hall in Baltimore on Saturday for a march that was as much about celebrating women’s recent political and social gains as it was a protest of Trump administration policies.

“As mothers, as grandmothers, as sisters, as aunts, and as friends, we stand yet again as the bedrock of our community, representing every neighborhood, every race, every religion, in unity with women all across the country, to once again stand against bigotry and hate,” Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state’s attorney, said during a rally at War Memorial Plaza. She then sent the crowd down a route that looped toward the Inner Harbor and back.

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Organizers were expecting 2,000 people for the city’s third annual women’s march. That’s far fewer than last year’s estimated attendance of more than 10,000. Winter weather forecasts may have kept people away, and marches were scheduled elsewhere. Baltimore’s march was one of many going on across the nation, including in Washington.

Cathy Esposito, who moved to the city’s Hampden neighborhood recently from Denver, joined the flow of people making their way down Holliday Street. Her 18-year-old daughter was marching, too, but at a rally back in Denver.

“We’re kind of marching together,” said Esposito, who works for a book publishing company. “As a mom of a daughter, it’s really important to me to come out and stand with other women, knowing that my daughter is in Denver, and just stand for equality. I wanted to be a mom of a strong young woman, and this is really important to me. I don’t like where our country is right now, either, and I wanted to be with other people who feel similarly.”

The original women’s march was held the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017 in Washington and had sister marches around the world. Baltimore’s march, which is not affiliated with any of the national march groups, was planned by a group of area women, with partner groups such as Baltimore Women United, Council on American-Islamic Relations and Latino Racial Justice Circle.

Organizers said they hoped the event would highlight issues that affect women in the city, such as immigration policy, domestic violence, sexual harassment, efforts to raise the minimum wage and increases in murders and other violence.

“We’re not complacent,” said Denise Gilmore, an organizer. “We’re here to take some action and come together. We’re going to keep marching until we get a woman president.”

Rabbi Sarah Marion of Temple Oheb Shalom in Pikesville told the crowd that men, women and children together could “build another garden, free of walls, right here in our city of Baltimore.”

“We know what racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, homophobia and hatred of Jews all aim to do,” said Marion, one of a dozen speakers. “We know that these forms of hate and oppression want to tear us down and divide us apart. When women and men join together to tear down the walls that divide us, the possibilities are endless.”

As she walked the streets, Kathryn Bradley held the “Hate does not make America great,” sign she used in a women’s march two years ago.

“I’m really frustrated with the Trump administration and the shutdown and immigration policies,” said Bradley, a lawyer who lives in Harbor East. “I’m not sure what else to do, but this is one of the ways I wanted to participate in the movement.”

Locust Point resident Steve Funkhouser said he came to the rally with his fiancee and a group of friends “to support my future wife and all women.”

Women’s marches have become an annual tradition for Lauren Stephens, an optometrist from Federal Hill, and her family. On Saturday, Stephens attended with her husband and two young sons.

Her son Oliver, 9, brought a sign that read, “Women aren’t objects.”

The third-grader said he wanted to support “Black Lives Matter,” and believed “women should have bigger rights.”

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Na’Kiya Thompson, a 17-year-old from East Baltimore, attended the march with other high school students from Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women.

“We are the future generation, and it’s important to advocate for everyone, to advocate for women, most importantly,” Thompson said.

Before the march, Mayor Catherine Pugh kicked off the rally, where several speakers noted advances made since the first march, including the number and diversity of women elected nationally to Congress and the Maryland General Assembly.

“As women, let us continue to rise, let us continue to lead and let us continue to acknowledge that we are not just women, but we are leaders in this city, in this state and in this country,” Pugh said.

The mayor read off a lengthy list of women in leadership positions in her administration.

“Women are changing the political landscape,” she said. “We are harnessing our collective voices to achieve social, political and professional victories.”

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