Dozens rally in north Baltimore for women's rights

People spoke on a wide range of topics at Baltimore's Day Without Women rally, highlighting issues with racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and more. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Wearing red and toting anti-President Donald J. Trump signs, dozens gathered in a park on North Charles Street on Wednesday afternoon as part of International Women's Day.

"I came here to be supportive of all women and whatever their issues are," said Malika Smith, 60, sporting red lipstick and a red pullover. "I came for Black Lives Matter, because that's very important to me. I came for the women in prison, I came for women in public housing, anybody who is going to be hurt by whatever the Republicans are doing, whatever Donald Trump is doing."


The organizers of January's Women's March on Washington called for Wednesday to be "A Day Without a Woman" and encouraged women around the country to take the day off work, wear red and avoid shopping.

The day was meant to demonstrate the importance of women to the economy. In Prince George's County, schools closed for the day after 1,700 teachers requested leave.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh proclaimed Wednesday "International Women's History Day," and said the dome of City Hall would be lit red.

Trump tweeted in support of International Women's Day, writing "I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy."

In an audio segment on the conservative website Red Maryland, Rob Carson said the day was about some women acting like victims.

"Let's get one thing straight, this is not a day without women," he said. "This is a day without leftist, Democrat, pro-abortion, Hillary-voting, Donald Trump-hating women."

Wednesday's rally in the small park was organized in part by the People's Power Assembly, which released a manifesto calling for access to reproductive health care, paid maternity leave and pay equity.

Valentina Dallona, a Johns Hopkins University graduate student who helped organize a group of about 50 fellow students to attend, said Trump's election made it "even more important to get in the streets."

"There's a specific historical moment right now in which women's rights are under attack, and not only women's rights, but immigrants' rights, refugees' rights, and so we are trying to put together all these struggles," said Dallona, a sociology student from Italy.

Jishnu Guha, another Hopkins graduate student, said he came in solidarity.

"I'm not a woman but my entire life is based off of the labor that women have done," he said.

Friends Ann McAlpin, 74 and Rita Brantley, 67, wore red to the rally.

"I'm a longtime supporter of women's rights and I think in this administration, women's rights are not being regarded with the justice that they should be," McAlpin said.

"I'm against the administration, and I'm afraid of what they will do to not only women but the black community, Muslims," Brantley said. "It seems every day it's something new, that our rights are being chipped away."