Thousands march

Katie Kowalski,
Posted 1/23/18

“You are the important people – and don’t forget it!”

That message from Port Townsend City Council member Michelle Sandoval rang out to the crowd of thousands gathered for the 2018 Port …

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Thousands march


“You are the important people – and don’t forget it!”

That message from Port Townsend City Council member Michelle Sandoval rang out to the crowd of thousands gathered for the 2018 Port Townsend Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 20, a cold and windy winter day.

Sandoval had just been introduced as one of the “important people” speaking that day. “Oh no!” she said, bestowing that power, and that responsibility, on the men, women and children who surrounded her.

“Last year was a year of resistance, a year of anger, a year of rage, perhaps, and this year, we’re going to vote. We’re going to organize. And we are going to kick them out of Congress and we are going to take back our country!” Sandoval shouted out.


The power of citizen activism and the impact of voting were recurring themes in the rally speeches at the second Women’s March.

“Hashtag Power to the Polls!” said rally emcee Zhaleh Almaee, referring to a movement started in Las Vegas that aims to harness the collective power of women and bring it to the polls, and to take back the administration.

Activist Emelia De Souza added: “The 21st century is a century of women. We are the heart of culture and we are the flower of peace. And we are the wind ... the hurricane that’s going to change the face of this nation.”

“Today we march, tomorrow we get involved and in November, we grab ’em by the midterms,” said De Souza.

“Midterm elections!” echoed Port Townsend High School student Ingrid Schultz in her speech.

The speakers encouraged the thousands surrounding them to exercise their power by voting – especially the younger listeners.

“I want to give a shout-out to all the young women who are here,” Sandoval said. “All these young people are going to save us.”


Schultz and her classmate Hannah Marx are two of those young people working to bring about change. They spoke midway through the rally, inspiring an especially enthusiastic response from the audience.

Schultz and Marx are both members of Students for Sustainability.

They shared a story about one of their many trips to Olympia to talk about a bill they are proposing. “The meeting did not go as planned; the second we walked into the room, we felt out of place,” Schultz said. They were in a room filled with portraits of white men hanging on the walls.

“Instead of having our ideas taken seriously, we were given smaller, easier things to take on, as if we, a group of kids, were not capable of making serious change.

“It was at that moment that we realized that our bill was bigger than we thought. It represented more than just cleaner streets. It showed us that although we are just kids, together we are powerful, and when we work hard, we are impossible to ignore!”

The audience applauded. “Phew! Are you feeling that?” Almaee exclaimed.


While the energy was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, there was a reported disturbance during the rally – that someone was throwing eggs. There were no reports filed with the Port Townsend Police Department of any eggs being thrown, according to spokesperson Keppie Keplinger.

De Souza said the egg came from one man, and hit a woman in the crowd.

“If you don’t like what’s happening here, that’s OK; that’s up to you, but please do not mess with us,” Almaee said, pausing between and emphasizing each of the last five words. “We are a powerful force, my friend.”

Almaee took the opportunity to address another concern. “Some of you many be aware of some disturbing posters that are going up in our county,” she said.

“These posters are representing a white supremacy group that supports violence. Do we support violence here?”

“No!” shouted the crowd.

“No, we don’t, because we are powerful in our hearts and know that love overcomes,” she said.

“We do not need violence,” she said. “Your violence is not welcome, and the fierce love will overcome you.”

De Souza echoed Almaee’s words. “We have to envelop them in love; encase them in love,” she said. “We’ve got to turn our hate into love.”


De Souza is still reflecting on the march, which is keeping her energy high.

“What inspired me was that we’ve got to say something,” she said. “I’m starting a new movement, it’s called #USAtoo,” based on the #metoo hashtag, she said. The majority of the world – which are women – she noted, believe in basic human rights. “They’re not racist or sexist or hateful,” she said.

Like others who spoke and marched, De Souza encourages everyone to vote, talk to their friends about voting and participate in any way they can.

“There’s a tsunami that’s going to bring fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen,” she said. “We’re stepping up and moving forward and taking our place on the stage of the American people.”