Joining millions of like-minded protesters around the world, more than 3,000 people gathered Saturday for Women’s March Bend in a peaceful but irreverent display of solidarity.
It was a sight rarely seen in Bend, but on a day when hundreds of American cities swelled with feminist pride, totally in sync with widespread demonstrations.
In Portland, an estimated 100,000 people marched. There were thousands marching in Salem and Eugene. In Boise, 5,000 people took to the streets.
Undeterred by falling snow and near-freezing temperatures, the Bend marchers started in Drake Park and made their way through the downtown area. The march drew people passionate about equality, access to health care and freedom from domestic and sexual abuse.
Many of them wore pink knitted hats as a unifying symbol at each of the Women’s Marches. Some brought their children and dogs.
Overall, the march was a challenge to President Donald Trump and his administration.
Signs poked fun at the new president: “Tweet women with respect” and “We shall overcomb.”
More pointed signs read: “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Our bodies, our minds, our power.”
Bend resident Aileen Lennon, 25, said her goal for the march was to show unity to those who may feel disenfranchised by the Trump administration.
“It’s just letting everyone know, who is scared about Trump being elected, that a majority of Americans support them and believe that America is about allowing everybody to be who they are,” Lennon said.
Lennon’s mother was marching in Washington, D.C., on Saturday with friends.
“I’m bummed I couldn’t be there, but this is amazing to be a part of this big crowd,” the younger Lennon said.
The protest was not limited to women. Men were scattered throughout the Bend march, showing their support.
Gabriel Foltz, 26, of Redmond, had never attended a protest before, but felt compelled to come out Saturday, after being disgusted with Trump’s comments during the election.
“To be honest, the second I heard the man running for president say that he grabs women without consent, I was pretty much done,” Foltz said. “I made the decision and I knew I was going to do what I can.”
Foltz said he hopes the march shines a light on the power of women.
“I’m hoping that people see the importance of electing more women to all of our offices, not just the presidency, but the House, the Senate and local offices,” Foltz said.
Mary Ostrander, a retired 69-year-old Bend resident, held a sign that read, “Repeal bullying, bigotry, not ACA (Affordable Care Act).”
Ostrander heard some complaints that the march’s message was too scattered and not focused on one unifying message.
To that, she said, the more messages the better.
“There are so many things that are at risk here that it’s important that women, especially collectively, represent the position that we deserve,” Ostrander said.
Sisters resident Helen Keefe, 66, said she felt a part of a larger movement on Saturday. She has friends in Ireland who were also marching on behalf of women.
“People in other countries are very, very upset about this,” Keefe said. “It’s not a joke to them. They can’t imagine why we would vote for someone like Trump.”
Bend resident Theo Wilhelm carried a U.S. flag as he walked with his two young sons. Wilhelm also held a sign that read, “Nothing’s funny about peace, love and understanding. Justice for all!”
Wilhelm said his wife, Natalie Wilhelm, made the trip to Washington, D.C., to take part in the Women’s March at the nation’s capital.
“She went away for the weekend, and we promised to march here,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm looked down at his two boys and said he was marching for the future, and “everything that is right and just, common sense and humanity.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820,