Nearly 4,400 people have RSVP’d for a Women’s March to the Arkansas State Capitol, according to an organizer. The event is scheduled for Saturday morning. It is one of nearly 600 similar demonstrations set to occur across the country, mirroring a Washington, D.C. march to protest of the new presidential administration of Donald J. Trump.
Gwen Combs, the lead organizer for the Little Rock-based march, says the demonstration will champion the rights of women, as well as democratic values of dignity, justice and diversity. In that vein, she says the message demonstrators plan to send goes beyond their opposition to one man.
“It can’t be encapsulated into being called a single-issue event, because there are so many things that we are approaching, so many elements of the platform. And it’s a combination of things that have existed prior to this incoming administration and will need to be fought for a long time,” she says.
Combs, a teacher, says she’s not aware of any planned counter-protests.
“We know that there are people who don’t share our beliefs, but honestly, we’re prepared to handle anything. We have security in place but we don’t expect any problems whatsoever,” she said.
A lineup of speakers will include several local and state elected officials who are women. Little Rock Vice -Mayor Kathy Webb is expected to speak, as are Ward 4 Director Capi Peck and Democratic State Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff.
President Trump, who was officially sworn in Friday, won 60.6 percent of the Arkansas vote in November. Aspects of the former reality TV star and New York real estate developer’s life have been widely criticized for what many characterize as oft-recurring lewd, offensive and demeaning remarks directed towards women.
During the presidential campaign Trump was also routinely condemned for suggesting that immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border with Mexico are rapists, that Muslims should be banned from entering the country, and for having once bragged about sexually assaulting women.
Though women’s marches are taking place all across America and in Little Rock to protest the president, the participants’ political sentiments cannot apply broadly to all women, particularly in Arkansas.
This remains evident in a statement released Friday by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican and the highest-ranking woman to currently serve in a state-wide elected office. She called the inauguration of President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence “a proud day for the United States of America.”
Rutledge, who also served as a Trump campaign surrogate, said further that she looked forward to “working with the new administration as they work to enact thoughtful, lawful polices that protect the safety and security of all Americans and help grow jobs from coast to coast.”
https://www.facebook.com/events/554137648113700/The Women’s March for Arkansas begins at 11am at 1300 West Capitol Avenue in Little Rock and ends at the Capitol steps. After the march, there will be an “Action Expo,” an associated set of forums on political organizing will take place at the Willie L. Hinton Community Center in Little Rock from 1pm to 4pm.