[Update: Lisa Peterson of the Rhode Island Womxn’s Action Initiative writes that, “This is a misrepresentation of how we came to disaffiliate from National. Also, we did not cancel the Rally, we never had plans for one. We were very transparent with the community back in April/May as we worked through a respectful, minimally harmful disaffiliation. We also offered to connect new organizers to National and support a transition to anyone who wished to continue the RI Chapter of WM. No one stepped up.” Peterson further directed me to direct people to this link, which explains the disaffiliation.]

Despite controversy and division, over 175 people gathered on the windy and cold south steps of the Rhode Island State House for a Women’s March Rally. Organizer Liandra Medeiros addressed the crowd, and the controversy around the event early on:

“I found out that they had cancelled this march about ten days ago,” said Medeiros, “but I had been involved with the first one and the second one and I really felt that it was cathartic for me. I had to go through a lot and a lot of people wanted to do it and I got a lot of cyber bullying and all kinds of different drama but I really feel like we needed it. I know there are other people like me who needed it.

“Last year they had some drama with the pussy hats and it just went down from there and [the local group] disaffiliated from the national march and they just cancelled it.”

“The spirit of this country is not dead,” said Rhode Island State Representative Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown). “It’s fighting back against this Cheeto… I think the time is coming very, very soon and I hope some of the Republicans in the Senate get some balls and fight for our America.”

Ray “Two-Hawks” Watson sang a Native American song and delivered a Native American prayer.

“I’m really moved by Liandra’s courage and clarity about what’s most important,” said Shanna Klinger. “My original name was Golda. I was named after my aunt who was machine gunned into a grave somewhere in Poland by the Nazis. So for a long time, you have to say my whole life, it’s been a question: How do you keep that from happening again?

“Dividing the people who are opposing the fascists is not the way to stop the fascists. And though I don’t condone any kind of antisemitism or racism or whatever, I know who the enemy is. In this time the enemy is hatred, in the person of anybody who is in a position of power to use it for ill. And the person who is most using it for ill right now, (I don’t condone anyone else who is also using it for ill) the person, we know, is the President of the United States and those who support him…”

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Judi Zimmer
Judi Zimmer

It had little to do with hats. It had a lot to do with how Jewish women and the LGBTQ were portrayed by Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, with acquiescence from the other two leaders of the WM.