Alder Street, Fourth Avenue, Main Street and then Palouse Street became the site of one of the largest organized marches to take over downtown for about 30 minutes Saturday morning.
The Women’s March on Walla Walla was one of several hundred marches that took place Saturday in communities across the nation and world — all held one day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Locally, the event drew more than 2,000 participants in a march that stretched out like a small parade taking up several city blocks.
“Apparently we hit a nerve and we are thrilled,” event co-organizer Nancy Monacelli said, adding they had expected about 800 participants. “Now the challenge is to capture this energy and keep it moving forward for the betterment of our community.”
The participants were a mixture of women and men of all ages, some of them new to demonstrations and marches.
Though it should be noted this march did have an official city permit for an estimated 200 participants. And that permit was obtained by Judy Mulkerin.
“I have never been involved in a march before. I have never applied for a permit (to march) before. This was the first time,” Mulkerin said.
“I feel that it is an appropriate thing to do for the women of our community and for people in our community who could possibly be affected by what has happened,” Mulkerin said.
The march also brought in veterans of demonstrations, like Liesl Olson, 28, who wore a dozen pins on her beanie — Greenpeace and ERA to name two.
“I have been to a couple,” Olson said. “ I was raised by strong women in my life who taught me to march for what is right.”
Like many participants, Olson carried a sign, and hers was dedicated to the women couldn’t make the march.
“The women that are taking care of their children, who are working, who are incarcerated, kind of the forgotten women that can’t be with us today,” Olson said, “I want to make sure that they have a voice.”
The demonstration also saw many men marching, including middle-age men such as Doug Morton and Bob Gregoire. Both said they were not new to demonstrations but new to marching for women’s rights.
“I have a granddaughter. I have a daughter. I care about their future,” Morton said. “It is not just women though.”
“What came out of Trump’s mouth toward women, Mexicans, Muslims, people with disabilities, the press, those are all things in my mind that I just can’t stand,” Gregoire added. “Somehow 60 million people heard all that and went, ‘Hmph. That’s OK. I can look past that.’ And I just can’t look past that.”
The march, which started at the First Congregational Church, 73 S. Palouse St., was led by a police escort down Alder, then north up Fourth, east up Main, south on Palouse and ending back at the church.
At one point, the line of marchers wrapped around Alder, Fourth and Main, in a tight formation that at times was backed up to a standstill.
Before and after the march, several guest speakers addressed the crowd through a public address system that was not adequate for the 2,000 people that filled the church’s parking lot.
Walla Walla police spokesman Officer Tim Bennett said it was hard to determine the exact number of participants, but it was possible to see how far they stretched.
“We are covering six blocks of people walking tightly together,” Bennett said during the march. “This is definitely the largest I have ever worked.”