Pink hats with pointed ears dotted the crowd taking up more than two city blocks in downtown Casper. Hundreds participated in the Women’s March of Casper on Saturday as they moved along Second Street. People of all ages, from babies to senior citizens, and many men were among those in the crowd.
Their voices blended in a chant that called for freedom, respect and equality, “Now!”
Participants also chanted, “No registries, no walls, equal human rights for all!”
Local march organizer Jane Ifland said estimates for the number of participants ranged from about 500 to 600. Police officers along the route estimated 300 to 500. Drone footage of the march likely will help make an accurate count later, but the crowd was far larger than Ifland anticipated, she said.
“I was blown away, frankly,” Ifland said. “I figured if we got 60, I’d be thrilled.”
The march was one of hundreds around the country and world on Saturday as sister marches of the Women’s March on Washington. Hundreds of thousands turned up there, according to the Associated Press.
“This is where we stand up and be counted,” Ifland said.
Kris Blair, of Big Piney, joined the Casper demonstration with her daughter, Jessica Blair, from Dayton. Her other daughter, Amanda Blair, was marching in Washington, D.C.
Kris marched for women’s rights as well as for minorities and issues including special needs education, she said.
“I’m marching because I’m 54 years old, and I want my daughters and granddaughters, grandsons to have the same opportunities that I’ve been able to have, and I don’t want them taken away,” Kris said. “That’s with everyone. I’m part Indian and I don’t want them to lose their rights. I just think there’s too much to lose if you don’t speak up.”
Casper city councilwoman Amanda Huckabay marched in her U.S. Army uniform with a sign reading “Rape: Silence will not protect you!”
There are myriad reasons people came out to march. Huckabay was there to stand in solidarity for victims of sex crimes, which include herself and her daughter, and women who’ve come to her and the city council trying to bring changes in the criminal justice system, she said.
Jay Redig, of Casper, held a sign that said, “Make America think again.”
“It’s being a queer person and then having a mother and having friends that are female, just showing solidarity …” he said about why he participated.
Along with the chants, demonstrators’ signs addressed women’s rights and other issues.
“Our bodies our minds our power,” were on several signs.
A little girl carried a sign that said, “Teach your children love, not hate.”
“Men of quality don’t fear equality,” read a sign one man carried.
The Casper chapter of the NAACP also carried a banner in the middle of the crowd.
“The NAACP has always been on the forefront of fighting against bigotry and discrimination and fair education and fair jobs,” chapter president Jimmy Simmons said. “It’s nothing new to us to get out and start — it’s not a protest it’s a sign of solidarity that we want that kind of stuff to stop.”
Saturday’s march won’t be the end of the efforts, Ifland said.
“There will be other events along this line,” Ifland said. “The standing up, the rising is only beginning.”