6 Things to Know If You’re Going to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

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Welcome to Be The Change, a series on grassroots activism, community organizing, and the fundamentals of fighting for justice. Primarily instructional and sometimes theoretical, this series creates space to share tips, learn skills, and discuss “walking the walk” as intersectional queer feminists.


Saturday, January 21, is the Women’s March on Washington (WMW) with solidarity marches and rallies planned all over the world. The WMW may be the largest mass demonstration on the first day of a new administration. There are three times as many bus parking permit requests for the WMW as there are for the President-elect’s inauguration. It’s going to be history in the making!

There was admittedly a rough start, with the original two white feminist organizers being called in on the need to center women of color in leadership. The original organizers acted to listen to women of color on the need to be truly inclusive and created the WMW National Co-Chairs and Organizers, a horizontal team of diverse organizers committed to ensuring that the march reflects women and femme-expressive people of all backgrounds.

Artwork for the march by Victoria Garcia, titled “RESPETA”

The organizers of the march released their unity principles last week, a statement that names intersectionality and honors the people and movements that have come before. The unity principles were put together by a large and diverse group of leaders and organizers including Janet Mock, Alicia Garza, and many others.

Artwork for the March by Kate DeCiccio titled “Embracing Eachother”

On Saturday, January 21, I will be providing protest monitoring for a solidarity event happening in my city. If you’re going to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., or attending one of the many solidarity events happening across the country, here are a few things to help you out.


1. Get On a Bus to D.C. or Find a Nearby Solidarity Action

Want to go to the WMW? It’s not too late to reserve a seat on a bus. Buses are leaving from all over the country.

If you can’t make it to D.C., find sister marches in hundred of places — hopefully one close to you. There are sister marches planned in all 50 states and 55 international locations!


2. Know Your Rights at a Protest

If you’re going to the WMW in D.C., make sure you know your rights. The right to protest is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but it’s up to you to know and exercise your rights!

The ACLU had a great guide to your rights while protesting. The ACLU of D.C. prepared information specifically for D.C. inaugural protests which includes pictures of the various D.C. law enforcement badges; your rights when encountering D.C. law enforcement; what to do if you’re arrested; and tips for people who are gender non-conforming, who may be on parole or probation, and who are undocumented.


3. Support the WMW Even If You Can’t Make It in Person

The WMW was founded and organized by volunteers. You can help offset the costs (permit fees, port-a-potty rentals, equipment rental, etc.) by making a donation.

You can also support the march by using social media to amplify the work of the organizers. Download free prints of five artist-submitted posters selected to be official artwork for the march.

Follow the WMW on Facebook and Twitter and share and retweet in the days leading up to and the day of the march. Make solidarity posts with the hashtag #WHYWEMARCH.


4. Make a Safety Plan Before You Go

First, watch this video that covers all the logisitcs you need to know about the WMW featuring Rosie Perez:

If you are attending the WMW or a sister event with friends, make a plan to stick together. It can be easy to get lost in the crowd at a large demonstration. Though it will likely be a peaceful march, there may be issues with counter-demonstrators or law enforcement. Before you head out, make a plan to look out for each other and to always stay within sight of each other.

If you do become separated, make sure you have each others’ phone numbers. If the march becomes violent or if civil disobedience happens, discuss beforehand what your plans will be and help each other get to a safe place.

Before you leave, share your whereabouts and cell phone number with someone you trust who isn’t going to the rally. Make sure you have the phone numbers of emergency contacts on your person during the march, as well as valid I.D. (if you have it).

If you are bringing children, sign up for the WMW parents Facebook group and sign up to get text alerts for families.


5. Understand #WHYWEMARCH

Read the Unity Principles and understand all that the WMW is about.

Artwork for the march by Jennifer Maravillas, titles “Our Bodies, Our Minds.”

The WMW unity principles state, “Our liberation is bound in each other’s. The Women’s March on Washington includes leaders of organizations and communities that have been building the foundation for social progress for generations. We welcome vibrant collaboration and honor the legacy of the movements before us – the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more – by employing a decentralized, leader-full structure and focusing on an ambitious, fundamental and comprehensive agenda.”

That agenda includes things like equal pay and protecting reproductive rights and ending violence against women. It also includes sex worker rights, the rights of undocumented immigrants, police accountability for racially-biased policing and brutality, climate protection, gender justice, economic equity and more. The agenda intentionally centers women of color, “in particular Black women, Native women, poor women,
immigrant women, Muslim women, and queer and trans women.”


6. Make a Pledge to Continue the Resistance After the March

The WMW is a history-making event. It has raised national conversations confronting white feminism and encouraging intersectional activism as a core value of the feminist movement. I hope you can make it, if you feel so compelled.

Artwork for the March by Liza Donovan titled “Hear Our Voice”

That said, what is going to matter just as much is what happens when the WMW is over, when the hundreds of thousands of us go back to our states, our communities, our homes. That’s where the challenging and vitally important work continues.


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KaeLyn is a 34-year-old (femme)nist activist and the reigning Queer Fat Korean Immigrant Ms. America Pageant winner. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating tofu, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. Talk sexy about intersectionality, cult movies, or theatre nerdiness to her at @kaelynrich.

KaeLyn has written 136 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. 0

    I hate what I’m about to do but “The whole world is watching” doesn’t mean what it used anymore

    https://lifehacker.com/5859590/how-to-protest-safely-and-legally

    How to Dress for a Protest

    -Wear comfortable shoes
    -Wear multiple layers that cover your skin
    -Wear goggles or shatter-resistant glasses if you plan to be up front
    -Wear a zippered backpack, big crowds are draw for pickpockets
    -Wear a second backpack on your stomach, stuff with soft stuff for padding or items you might want easy access to

    Be aware of your surroundings, be smart if things start to get violent and get out of there
    You’re not a coward if you run.

    If you throw things at cops, if you actively try to incite them you’re a fucking moron who’s putting other people at risk. Same with trying to get into it with opposition protesters.

    A cloth soaked apple cider vinegar will NOT protect you from the effects of actual facts tear gas

    http://newssafety.org/safety/advisories/protecting-yourself-from-tear-gas/

    Covering your airways with a fresh hanky can help just enough to get your ass moving away from the epicenter of the gas. Better than nothing.
    Get to higher ground if you can
    Don’t rub your eyes or face
    When you do get the chance to wash your self; shower not bath, cold shower first and warm shower second.

    • 0

      Heads up: regular backpacks are not allowed. From the Women’s March FAQ:

      All backpacks and bags may be subject to search at the March, and those not conforming to the standards set here may be confiscated or asked to be left behind. Backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17″x12″x6″ (colored transparent bags are not permitted).

      Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8”x6”x4”.

      Specifically for people who would like to bring meals, each marcher is permitted one additional 12”x12”x6” plastic or gallon bag.

      For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, please ensure that your supplies fit into the above clear backpack. You can have one backpack per individual in your group, as long as they abide by the above guidelines.

      If you are a member of the press, covering the event officially, and have equipment that will not fit into bags of the above dimensions: please contact the National Communications Team to get press credentials in advance in order for your equipment to be allowed into the rally site.

      If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, please enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave. For anyone using Metro, please get off at Federal Center SW and use 4th St. to enter the rally area.

      Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.

      Do not bring anything that can be construed as a weapon, including signage with any kind of handle (e.g. a sharpened wooden stick). We recommend also checking with your bus company if your bus will be secured during the march and if you can leave larger belongings in the bus, rather than carrying them all day.

      This is the policy of the Women’s March team of organizers, security, and logistics. We ask all marchers to please cooperate with these policies and guidelines in order to ensure that this event is safe and comfortable for all attendees. We understand the environmental implications of using plastic bags and backpacks, but in this case, we believe the safety and security of the hundreds of thousands of marchers supersedes other concerns.

  2. 0

    Thanks for this. I’m going to the Chicago march with my 70+ yo parents. I’m very excited to be marching with them, really excited that they want to be there, but I’m also feeling so so protective of them (and all of our elders).

    I’ve only marched in Pride before, so I have no clue about getting ready for a protest march. So this list is helpful. Thank you.

  3. 0

    I think there might be a DC Straddlers march contingent (yes?) but there are also several other groups doing contingents and passing out flyers in DC, including the National Center for Transgender Equality and Standing Up for Racial Justice-DC. You can find those on facebook.

    One idea I thought was really cool but haven’t heard back from yet is #MarchWithMe, where you can sign up to wear the photo of someone who cannot march for accessibility reasons, and to share your experiences of the march with that person. Sign up here: http://ow.ly/6IGr307SQ72

    And, another thing to jumpstart activism after the march – a series of teach-ins and trainings post-march, #WeRise: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/werise-jan-21-democracy-teach-in-following-the-womens-march-on-washington-tickets-30340802156?aff=es2

    Stay safe, everyone!

  4. 0

    Will be in Atlanta as a proud resident of the Fifth District, as well as a queer ladyish folk.

    Come out! It’s a great time to be in my diverse, beautiful city, where we are so damn proud to be represented by a civil rights icon and American hero.

  5. 0

    Thank you thank you thank you for poating this! I had originally planned a trip to DC with friends, but due to several money and appointment issues, we had to cancel last week. We had previously looked at a link to marches that showed our state had none planned (West Virginia) so we were not surprised but upset not to participate. I have been really depressed about it honestly. But when I saw your link to sister marches, and it said that there are ones planned in every single state, I found that we do indeed have one here, so I am now in the process of making plans! And I may notnhave found out in time if you hadn’t shared this so thank you!!

  6. 0

    I know this is duh but my inner mom compels me to say: make sure to bring lots of water, a variety of snacks with fats, sugar, and protein in them, and some hygiene products (tp, stuff for menstruation if your body does that). And maybe a first aid kit and meds just in case too? <3

  7. 0

    These links were shared in one of the facebook groups I belong to.

    Women’s March on Washington: what to know and what to bring
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/15/womens-march-washington-packing-list-protest-rights?CMP=fb_gu

    Note: The above link mentions restrictions on backpacks.

    And a map of Warming/Welcome Stations in the area around the protest
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1-MbCRo0_c9N2krZ8EC_JGi6hlBQ&shorturl=1&ll=38.89711392272279%2C-77.02499509999996&z=14

  8. 0

    Also be aware of James O’Keefe’s network/ Project Veritas– a conservative group offering huge sums of money to progressive activists if they would disrupt the ceremony and “put a stop to the inauguration”. They just got stung back, but still good to be aware of infiltration and other attempts to make our side look bad.

    More here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/counter-sting-catches-james-okeefe-network-attempting-to-sow-chaos-at-trumps-inauguration_us_5873e26fe4b043ad97e516f7?46pataajznfxn7b9

  9. 0

    “On the Women’s March ‘Guiding Vision’ and its inclusion of Sex Workers
    I am proud of the work I’ve done as part of the Women’s March policy table – a collection of women and folk engaged in crucial feminist, racial and social justice work across various intersections in our country. I helped draft the vision and I wrote the line “…and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements.” It is not a statement that is controversial to me because as a trans woman of color who grew up in low-income communities and who advocates, resists, dreams and writes alongside these communities, I know that underground economies are essential parts of the lived realities of women and folk. I know sex work to be work. It’s not something I need to tiptoe around. It’s not a radical statement. It’s a fact. My work and my feminism rejects respectability politics, whorephobia, slut-shaming and the misconception that sex workers, or folks engaged in the sex trades by choice or circumstance, need to be saved, that they are colluding with the patriarchy by “selling their bodies.” I reject the continual erasure of sex workers from our feminisms because we continue to conflate sex work with the brutal reality of coercion and trafficking. I reject the policing within and outside women’s movements that shames, scapegoats, rejects, erases and shuns sex workers. I cannot speak to the internal conflicts at the Women’s March that have led to the erasure of the line I wrote for our collective vision but I have been assured that the line will remain in OUR document. The conflicts that may have led to its temporary editing will not leave until we, as feminists, respect THE rights of every woman and person to do what they want with their body and their lives. We will not be free until those most marginalized, most policed, most ridiculed, pushed out and judged are centered. There are no throwaway people, and I hope every sex worker who has felt shamed by this momentarily erasure shows up to their local March and holds the collective accountable to our vast, diverse, complicated realities.”

    http://janetmock.tumblr.com/post/156017232338/womens-march-sex-worker-inclusion

  10. 0

    So intersectional, you disinvited the pro-life women. Just let’s be truthful and call it the Progressive Women’s March. The event does not come close to representing the lived realities of all women. A shame. Could’ve been inclusive, but isn’t.

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