Sunday, July 23, 2017

Women and Allies March Again in Woodstock

Ruth Scifo, an organizer of the event, was the host and MC from the Woodstock Square Gazebo .

In clammy but not oppressive Woodstock Square under sometimes threatening skies, more almost 200 folks gathered to mark the Six month Anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches around the world and to recommit to the spirit of Resistance of that seminal event.  Attendance would undoubtedly been higher if it were not for fear of another round of storms, the many folks in the county dealing with flooding, and numerous competing events.
Particular emphasis was on electoral actionvoter registration and turn-out, candidate recruitment, and electing more women at all levels of government.  That reflected the primary organizers of the event which included the Democratic Party of McHenry County, and members of McHenry County Progressives and Indivisible, all oriented to political action.  So it lacked the kind of edgy street militancy and radicalism that were included in the January mega-marches.  But that probably also marks exactly where the movement in McHenry County is today.
Still, the program from the Gazebo took pains to be as inclusive as possible and reflect the broad range of constituencies under attack in Trump’s America.  Speakers included  MC and event organizer Ruth Scifo who also organized the McHenry County contingent at the March on Washington event; McHenry County Democrats Vice Chair Kristina Zahorik who also did an outstanding job tying the event to historic suffrage rallies held on the Square; Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Program Director at Sierra Club Illinois and former Director of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County; Janie Galarza, Latino Outreach Coordinator at the domestic violence agency Turning Point who spoke on the intersession of health care, domestic abuse; Jenna Prochaska of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Reproduction Rights Project; and immigration; and Mary Ewert of McHenry County Citizens for Choice and who represented the Handmaiden’s protest to the assault on women’s reproductive rights and women’s autonomy.  I hope I have not forgotten anyone, but I probably have.
Tree of Life UU Congregation Social Justice Team Co-Chair Judy Stettner and her husband Mark.  Judy brought a supply of UUA and Standing on the Side of Love plackards that were very popular.
The crowd included about a dozen members and friends of Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry and our rally card from the UUA were popular placards for the rally and march.  I also spied dozens of old friends and fellow trouble makers from my days with the old Interfaith Committee for Social Justice, Diversity Days, the anti-war movement, and the Democratic Party as well as new acquaintances from several Resistance events since the Election.
After the oratory was over, we all did a lap around the Square and then marched to Dick Tracy Park on Lake Street, about a mile and a half amble.  Tree of Lifers were among those in the lead of the march, but I fell a bit back taking pictures and ended up just behind two octogenarian women, one with double canes.  They set a brisk pace that I had trouble keeping up with.  After we got to the park and cooled down some, I was pleased to offer the services of my daughter, Maureen Rotter who came to pick me up to give them a ride back to their car near the square.
All in all it was a good day and time well spent.  Everybody was energized and there were lots of opportunities participate in ongoing campaigns, events, and political activity.
Here is a small gallery of photos from the rally and march.
The Handmaidens were a dramatic prescience at the rally and on the march.  
Part of the crowd looking towards the Civil War monument and Pump house on the square.  You may be able to make out the one tall placard topped by American flags, it read "Women 4 Trunp" and was carried by the lone counter demonstrated.  She was simply ignored and no one spoke to or molested her, but she was surrounded a wide toxic no-go zone.
Cheryl Niemoy of Jail Brakers, Carol Ciccotoso, and Marian Weiss.
Democratic candidate for Congress from the 14th District Jim Walz in black shirt by the McHenry County Democrats table at the end of the march in Dick Tracy Park.

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