Women’s March events to be held for second year

GOULDSBORO — Going into the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency, activists across Maine — and across the country — are organizing for a renewed and focused purpose: getting women into positions of political power.

Marking the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, organizers of last year’s Women’s March are hosting marches this year under the theme “Power to the Polls,” highlighting efforts to get more women elected.

Marches will be held Jan. 20 in Gouldsboro, Augusta, Bangor and Bar Harbor. All are registered with the national Women’s March organization. Details for each individual march are located on the Women’s March website.

Currently, of the United States Senate’s 100 members, only 22 are women. In the House of Representatives, 84 of 435 elected officials are women. Taken together, that means women account for just less than 20 percent of the entire U.S. Congress.

Two of Maine’s four seats in Congress are held by women. Three prominent candidates for governor in 2018 are women, though overall only seven of the 26 announced candidates for that race are women.

Gouldsboro organizer Shemaya Laurel described the upcoming events as “responding to what this year has been since the last march,” referencing Trump’s high profile remarks and policies that many see as sexist. “He said those things, got elected, and is running the country with that mindset.”

As an example, Laurel pointed to the October 2016 disclosure of “Access Hollywood” tapes that caught Trump bragging to television personality Billy Bush about forcibly grabbing women inappropriately and abusing his position of celebrity to make sexual advances.

But the issue goes beyond just policies that relate to women, Laurel said. She brought up uncertainty about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and a loosened deportation policy for undocumented immigrants under the Trump administration.

“A lot of this, it’s about all the issues of justice and equity,” she said. “Women are involved in every one of those issues and are impacted by those issues.”

Laurel helps run the Acadia Action political group, which is affiliated with the nationwide Indivisible movement. Indivisible is a political organizing platform helping patch together progressive communities across the country.

Acadia Action is coordinating the Gouldsboro protest, which will be held in front of the town office in Prospect Harbor at 4 p.m. Jan. 20. Laurel said last year about 40 people attended; she’s not sure how many to expect this year.

Bar Harbor’s event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on the town’s village green.

“Instead of marching, we’ll join together to celebrate a year of resistance with cocoa and music,” reads an advertisement for the event on the Maine Resists website. “We will create a giant ballot and choose between the Trump agenda and the people’s agenda, and discuss how to commit ourselves to work for change at the polls this November.”

The march in Bangor will begin at 11 a.m. at Pierce Memorial Park, and will include numerous speakers — some of whom are women in politics. Augusta’s event also begins at 11 a.m., and will be held outside the Maine State House.

According to a press release about the events, Maine’s four marches will be viewed together as a statewide protest.

“All the organizers say that each of the day’s events will be marked by the strong sense of community that is among the state’s defining characteristics,” the press release reads.

Despite its large geographical footprint, they note, Maine is in many ways just one large small town. That is especially true of communities like Bar Harbor, says Durand, a member of Indivisible MDI and one of the organizers of the Bar Harbor event.

Jack Dodson
Jack Dodson began working for The Ellsworth American in mid-2017, and covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties. He grew up in the Mid-coast region before living in New York City for five years, where he freelanced in documentary filmmaking and journalism. He is particularly interested in criminal justice, environment and immigration reporting.