Jefferson county men, women take to the streets

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 1/17/17

Emelia De Souza knows that women from Jefferson County are heading to Washington, D.C., and Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 21 to join women’s marches the day after Donald Trump takes office as the 45th …

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Jefferson county men, women take to the streets

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Emelia De Souza knows that women from Jefferson County are heading to Washington, D.C., and Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 21 to join women’s marches the day after Donald Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States.

Because Port Townsend has been so supportive of her on her journey from being a man to becoming a woman, De Souza said she wanted to host a women’s march close to home sweet home Port Townsend.

“We’re like a shining beacon here,” said De Souza. “I used to hate going into Port Townsend, but now, since I came out and Port Townsend received me with open arms, I’m so fortunate to live here. I want to be able to support our women here.”

After a lifetime of masquerading as a man, De Souza told the world in 2015 that she’s done with playing dress-up. Many people remember Souza as Henry Souza, an architectural designer who came to Jefferson County in 1994 to build a home and settle down with a wife.

So on Saturday, De Souza plans to don a “pussy hat” and wear purple – the color was chosen at an organizing meeting – and lead a march from downtown Port Townsend. People are asked to gather in Pope Marine Park, across from City Hall, at 9:30 a.m. The procession is to go down Water Street, make a right on Adams Street and then left on Washington Street to Haller Fountain, where people are to be invited to speak out on issues of concern.

De Souza is expecting at least several dozen women to attend the event.

“Some of us can’t go to Seattle or travel, for whatever reason,” she said.

De Sousa said the rhetoric of the recent election has insulted women, immigrants, religious faiths, LGBTQ, disabled, veterans, and others.

“Let’s us be in solidarity and march here in Port Townsend,” she said.

HEADING TO SEATTLE, D.C.

Four buses with almost 200 passengers from Jefferson and Clallam counties are headed to the Womxn’s March in Seattle on Saturday.

Organizer Debbie Steele said Monday that in addition to 197 people on the buses, there also were a number of carpools, although a number of people have been canceling because of illness.

Steele’s husband, Dennis Daneau, said Steele was undaunted by the cancellations and has been filling the empty seats with people who were on a waiting list.

Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was bustling with sign makers on the evening of Jan. 16.

Robin Stemen had organized the night of sign making through friends, the church newsletter and Steele.

Cris Wilson, one of the more than 40 sign makers in attendance, explained that the purpose of their activities was “solidarity.”

“We want to let people know they aren’t alone, even if they might feel like they are,” Wilson said. “As you resist, you should be aware that you’re not doing so on your own.”

Steele underscored this sentiment with hard numbers, reporting that the bus lists had expanded from one bus with 24 riders to four buses with 197 riders.

“It’s energizing and hopeful and gladdens my heart,” Steele said. “Social justice is important. We don’t want any group to have to go backwards.”

Indeed, in spite of her own expressed sentiments, Steele later admitted that “it breaks my heart” to have to march again for causes that she’d already marched for in the 1960s.

“We expect our voices to be heard,” Steele said.

Two 16-year-olds from Port Townsend High School were among the sign makers Jan. 16.

“Since we live in a small town, we don’t see big events like this very often,” Hanalei Schauer said. “I felt like it was important to be involved.”

“I’ve wanted to protest ever since Trump was elected,” Elizabeth McLane said, laughing.

For more information on the Jan. 21 Womxn’s March in Seattle, go to

womxnsmarchseattle.wordpress.com.

Michelle Sandoval said 39 men and women are heading to the march in Washington, D.C., from Jefferson County.

“Everybody is going for different reasons, obviously,” Sandoval said. “What we tried to do is prepare people for [the possibility] that cell phones most likely won’t work and there’s going to be a lot of walking,” she said.

She said those going have made plans for how to reach each other and loved ones in an emergency. She said text messages likely will work.

“We’re bringing some walkie-talkies just in case, and we have attorneys’ numbers back here, just in case,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect.”

(Leader reporter Allison Arthur contributed to this article.)

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