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Thousands Rally In Solidarity With Women In ABQ

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM
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Demonstrators in Albuquerque's Civic Plaza

As more than half a million people turned up to the Women’s March in D.C., here at home, demonstrators gathered around the state. In Albuquerque, hail and wind did not deter thousands from streaming into Civic Plaza Downtown, in what has to be one of the biggest women’s rights-centric events ever in New Mexico. The message was inclusive of civil rights, protections for immigrants, health care and more. The massive crowd was jubilant. 

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Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM
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Natalie Barrens Rogers

"It’s big! I can’t believe it! Yay, Albuquerque! It’s big! Hallelujah! We’re not alone," Natalie Barrens Rogers said. It was important to her to bring her daughter, she added. "She’s seven. I wanted her to see that she has power, she’s valued, she has rights."

As the national march was planned, organizers broadened the mission to include race and human rights. Demonstrator Kavita Krishna said she showed up here to stand against the threat the new administration poses.

"Especially here in New Mexico," she said, "we recognize that that incorporates rights for women of color, for incarcerated women, for immigrants—documented or undocumented."

Krishna said as a woman of color with friends from many backgrounds, movements have to be aware of the dangers people face as they protest. "When we walk with privilege, we can forget what it feels like to feel that fear on a daily basis."

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Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM
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Kavita Krishna

Sonya Morris Smith took the stage to say the thousands of women in attendance looked beautiful to her. And she issued a challenge. "Matter of fact, I dare you," she said. "Can I just breech etiquette for a moment and say, I triple-dog dare you to get involved."

The question, she said, is what are you going to do tomorrow?   

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Credit Anna Lande / KUNM
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Hundreds make their way to the protest

Bongo drumming and cheering filled the streets as women, men, and children stood together in solidarity. Esodie Geiger says she came down to celebrate women and human rights.

“In this society, we are forgotten. We are marginalized," she said. "We’re really not respected in the way that we should be respected and I think that this is just a reminder to everyone that we are here. We’ve been here. We are beautiful. We are powerful and as long as we all collectively get together to show everyone that, you can’t touch us.”

Planned Parenthood has been targeted by Republicans for years, and now that the party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, the future of those womens healthcare services is unclear. Laura Vennard says she’s worried about that.

“I’ve benefited from Planned Parenthood. I feel like they are just looking at the whole abortion aspect when its mainly cancer screenings, reproductive rights, birth control. I feel like they’re gonna take it away.”

Jane Baechle is concerned too. She is sure Trump’s policies will especially harm women’s reproductive rights.

“I think they’re very much at risk. Women have a wide range of perceptions about issues related to reproductive rights and it’s important to acknowledge that, but I still think that is an incredibly personal position and decision that each woman has to make.”

As wind sifted snow through the thousands gathered on Saturday, people seemed confident and ready to endure.

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President Donald Trump has said that he is fine with same sex marriage. But his vice-president’s anti-LGBT policies has left some members of New Mexico’s LGBTQ community feeling threatened. 

Elisa Valdez came to the Albuquerque Women’s rally with her fiancé. "We want to be able to be married, and be recognized, just like everybody else as a married couple," she said. "Our love is equal — just like everybody else’s."

Valdez says she’s not worried that same-sex marriage will be outlawed during Trump’s administration. She is afraid that things like gay-conversion therapy will be normalized and that there will be more local homophobic discrimination.

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Credit Anna Lande / KUNM
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Isaiah Lee Cordova drew tears on his face for the march on January 21, 2017 in Albuquerque.

As ralliers packed onto Civic Plaza, Isaiah Lee Cordova stood unprotected in the hail. He had drawn tears on his face with liquid eyeliner, but he looked encouraged.

"No matter the candidate, no matter anything, it is important for all of us to stand together as a people," said Cordovoa. "Not just gay, not just straight, not just black, not just white, not just Jewish, not just Christian—everyone together. Because it’s our country." 

And we’re showing that right now, Cordova said, as dozens of rainbow flags snapped in the scattered sunshine.

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the correct name for source Isaiah Lee Cordova. 

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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