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Chicago women march to the polls for second year

January 25 2018
The second annual Women’s March in Chicago took place Saturday, Jan. 20. According to the Chicago Tribune, an estimated 300,000 women, men and children participated in the march. The march was organized last year as a sister march to the Women’s March in Washington D.C, which took place on the same day. Officially named the “March to the Polls,” the rally started at Congress and Columbus Street and continued on to Columbus Drive, Jackson Boulevard, the Westbound lane of the Congress Parkway and the Federal Plaza. Other popular locations of protest and marching included Millennium Park and Grant Fountain as groups relocated throughout the day. Police closed off streets from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., but music and videos started at 9 a.m. and the march officially began at 12:30 p.m.
The Women’s March in Chicago was one of over 350 worldwide events during the weekend, according to WGN. Groups hosted these events in an effort to raise awareness for issues and topics that affect women worldwide. The march, according to the official website, is intended to offer an opportunity for women of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds, ages and orientations to gather as “allies in support of women’s rights including equal rights, equal pay, reproductive justice, affordable healthcare, affordable childcare, racial justice, voting rights, freedom from violence, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights, fair wages, access for persons with disabilities, environmental protections and other critical areas of focus.” Prior to the march, Women’s March Chicago (WMC) organizer Jessica Scheller said in a statement: “If we want to see progress in this city, state and country we need women’s votes, voices and leadership.”
Although there was no particular affiliation with certain causes or rights issues, the shift of focus in this year’s march went from resisting the new administration of 2017 to influencing and building a better future in 2018, according to the Chicago Tribune. Participants gathered from all over the surrounding Chicago area to support a variety of different issues and conversations. When asked why they went, and what they marched for, Wheaton College sophomores Kara Chen and Rebecca Plankeel said that they were moved by the numbers of women, as well as men and children, who came to support a variety of issues. Plankeel, commenting on the different signs displayed at the rally that “everyone had unique signs and came to protest many different things but all the people, even when issues varied, came together for the purpose of empowering women in all walks of life.”
Many protesters attended to support specific issues that they felt affected by. Chen said that she went “because [she] wanted to see what it was all about and march alongside strong women.” When talking about her experience at the march, Chen stated that after recent movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, “oppression and the silencing of women needs to be addressed.” Chen also argued against claims that the rally is an anti-men, anti-cop or a governmental rally, instead asserting that it was a gathering of “many people of all demographics … because we should all be in this together.” Plankeel also commented about the integration of marchers and issues in that “there were hundreds of people from all ages, ethnicities, social classes and genders who came together to fight for and support women.”

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