A first-hand account of the Women’s March from a member of Our Revolution MN

By Robert Roedl

Traffic was backed up almost to the Minneapolis border as droves of people flooded into St. Paul for the Women’s March around noon on Saturday. The event started at 10:00 AM. My wife and I didn’t know how lucky we were to be the last people let onto a city bus after ducking off the freeway and ditching the car on a sidestreet in favor of other methods of transport. The bus was jam packed and had to turn away riders at every stop for the remainder of the trip.

Out one side of the bus I saw countless little clusters of people with their folded signs making their way on foot down University Avenue toward the Capitol. Out the other side, commuter trains packed to the gills with people pressed to the glass on all sides wizzed past throngs of still more people lined up at the platforms hoping, to no avail, to hitch a ride rather than walking the mile or two that remained between them and the Capitol.

I’ve been masking my post election despair with guarded hopefulness that these dark days might be an opportunity for us liberals to finally show what we are capable of. As the bus drew nearer to the capital, the crowds and the energy grew and I began believe that my sullen hopes may actually be realized. We were dropped off 3 blocks from St. Paul College, (the march’s starting point) because the traffic was too thick to drive any further.

There were dozens of people already leaving the event as we walked the last couple of blocks. I ran into some friends of mine who said “it’s just nuts down there man. People are piled up all the way to the Capital and more keep coming.” When I got there I couldn’t believe my eyes. The massive crush of people packed the length of John Ireland Blvd., down the access road in front of St. Paul College and then filled Marion Ave back across the freeway and as far as the eye could see. I’d never seen anything like it. It had to be nearly a mile of 4 lane divided boulevard filled with people.

The mood was festive but in a comforting compassionate way. People filled the Capitol Mall in a peaceful courteous manner. There was little of the usual rebellious derision and shouting of chants. The conversations were friendly and supportive as people connected with old acquaintances and casually made new ones. The sheer mass of people made me feel hopeful but also, it felt powerful. Very powerful. So powerful that I believe we may not only endure and overcome the assaults of the next 2 to 4 years, but we can challenge and overrun this fraudulent and corrupt new administration.

That empowerment was further amplified as the day progressed and I kept seeing more and more pictures of massive gatherings overflowing the streets in cities throughout the entire country, and the entire world. I realized that this isn’t just about my ideals and dreams of what America means. It’s about the dreams that this country inspires in billions of people around the world. We owe it to the world to live up those high aspirations. I wish I could send a giant THANK YOU to people all over the world for supporting us and what America stands for.

We are still America and we will lead with dignity, respect and fairness!

I am aware that there will be pushback. I don’t mean a few spitting tweets from a bloviating circus clown. The pushback will be well orchestrated and it could be disheartening and demoralizing, but we have to stay engaged and stick together. We have to continue to behave like we are that crowd of 100,000 standing up for the rights of the 300 Million that live in America. Since we believe it takes a village to raise a child, it’s going to take a village to endure the undertaking that lies ahead of us.

As I stood empowered and invigorated and 100,000 strong at that moment in St Paul, I felt the hope of possibility and I felt powerful in numbers. But no matter how strong and optimistic I felt in that massive crowd, I also became vividly aware of how weak and vulnerable I am if I stand alone.

Thank you to everyone responsible for making this event possible, and so very powerful.