Minnesota Women’s March results in low 2019 turnout

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Julia Baron

Protestors advocate using homemade signs.

Two years after the largest one day protest in American history, and two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, feminists around the country gathered again to march, rally, and protest the policies of his administration. Only this time there weren’t pink pussy hats covering the steps of every state capital, and posters and signs weren’t filling every corner of the streets. With temperatures well below freezing, and even dipping below zero with wind chill readings, the 2019 Minnesota women’s march was nearly empty and the area surrounding the capital seemed vacant. With only a few thousand people attending the march, it did not have the same energy that was present at the 2017 march. Although the same high energy, enthusiasm, and anger weren’t present in volume, the people that did attend the march were clearly very passionate feminists. They were willing to weather the freezing temperatures to show that feminism is as important now, if not more so than it was two years ago when Trump was elected.

Amid accusations against leaders of the Washington D.C Women’s March of not including all women in the protest, the Minnesota women’s march did not gain the same momentum as the first one, and many people decided to stay home.

According to The New York Times, there have been charges of antisemitism against two leaders of the march. These accusations were for excluding Jewish activist, Vanessa Wruble, and for saying that “Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.” These leaders have also supported Islamic leader Louis Farrakhan, who is accused of making anti-Semitic statements.  Because of this controversy, many sponsors, including the Democratic National Committee, withdrew their support, and many sister marches around the country chose to distance themselves from the Washington D.C march, the Minnesota Women’s March being one of them. According to WCCO “the local march condemns the anti-semitic comments causing controversy at the national level.” Even though the Minnesota Women’s March disassociated themselves with the leaders accused of antisemitism, the march still did not reach near the size it did in 2017. The Star Tribune reported that the 2019 women’s march drew an estimated total of 4,000 people at its peak, compared to the 90,000 people that attended the 2017 Minnesota Women’s March. Some students believe that the accusations of anti-semitism could have fueled feminists to go, while others think that it could have contributed to the low number of attendees.

“I think that [the accusations of antisemitism] could change some people’s minds, but the people who attended the first march, I don’t think it would change their minds. I think it would make them more angry and would give them something to fight for” 9th grader Julian Duffy said.

“I believe that some people who attended the first women’s march may not have attended [the 2019 women’s march] based on the fact that some leaders may have made anti-semitic remarks, I think that definitely would have contributed, but it’s cold man, so I wouldn’t go, it’s just way too cold. I mean if you’re going to go out into the negatives for the women’s march, that’s commitment. So I think you definitely saw the most committed people there.” Sophomore Isaac Carlson said.

The women’s march was initially projected as a movement that supported all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual and gender identity, and mental and physical ableness. Junior Nathan Sobotka believes that, with these allegations, they lost this initial meaning.

I believe the reason the women’s march wasn’t as popular was because of the co-founders. They failed to deal with anti-semitism, both within their own lives and within the movement”

— Nathan Sobotka

“I think for the women’s march, the initial message, they lost that, and some of the founders were caught in a very anti-semitic scandal. You had one of the co-founders, Tamika Mallory, she refused to condemn Farrakhan, he is an incredibly anti-semitic, leader of the Nation of Islam. He’s incredibly homophobic, and both of those messages, I believe that many people from the women’s march, [who] don’t agree with anti-semitism, are [also] supportive of gay rights, and obviously, because she refused to condemn him, many people felt uncomfortable,” junior Nathan Sobotka said. “So I believe the reason the women’s march wasn’t as popular was because of the co-founders. They failed to deal with anti-semitism, both within their own lives and within the movement” he said.

Some students believe that the low turnout this year was due in part to fatigue.  The first march was held right after the election when many people were shocked and angry with the results. “I went to the 2017 Women’s march,” said 9th grader Olivia Szay and “a lot of people didn’t like Trump as much, and for me, and it was right after he got elected. For me, I know that was like more push to go.”

Although the reason for students choosing not to participate in the 2019 Minnesota Women’s March varied, it is clear that multiple factors contributed to low turnout in Minnesota and at similar rallies across the country.