Sunday, January 22, 2017

BAM Takes to the Streets

Everyone got up unusually early for a Saturday. It was the day of the Women's March in Chicago, January 21, and BAM wasn't going to miss it. [BAM is the name the three girls are referred to by themselves and others, when they are referred to as a group. I'll refer to them here only by their initials.]

The 3 Feministas take it to the streets.

Under light jackets they wore white, they said, as a tribute to the suffragettes of a hundred years ago, on whose shoulders they consciously stood. B's t-shirt references the SCOTUS Angels, an allusion to the female members of the Supreme Court. 

March organizers had originally planned for 20,000 marchers. The night before, the prediction was raised to 50,000. But by the time BAM arrived at the neighborhood El station, all trains heading downtown were packed. It was already clear this crowd was going to be WAY more than 50,000.

There was a point when nobody else could get on.

M and B managed to grab a seat when someone got off, and one sat in the other's lap. A stood the whole way down. (As did the chaperone, need we say?) They alighted near the Harold Washington Library and, amazingly, immediately found friends from school. Their friends had made ... er, um ... uh ... let's call them "kitten" ears. They're actually called something else, a reference to one of Donald Trump's favorite pastimes when a TV celebrity (and, for all we know, even now). They had made extras and gave them to BAM. After some excited chatter, the group was off for the march assembly point.

Walking under the El on the way to the March.

It was just a matter of following the flow of the crowd, and in no time at all BAM found themselves separated from their friends and in the middle of a crowd (later to be reported as 250,000 souls) that was going nowhere.

And that's where they stood for about an hour and a half.  For a while, other marchers' signs were enough to keep everyone amused.

Clicking on a picture enlarges it and makes it easier to read.

While waiting for the march to begin, various chants started up in the crowd, including several initiated by BAM. The young marchers became intoxicated with their power. Well, no, not really. But they appeared to be enjoying it.

After a while, there was a slow but perceptible flow of movement toward the lake. A good theory was that the group just to the north of us (see aerial photo) was moving out, and BAM would come in behind them. But after about 10 minutes of shuffling, people in the crowd started pointing back towards the west, indicating BAM would be marching into the streets.

What no one knew until watching the news that night was that the entire march route was already effectively filled with protesters – there was no open space to march TO! The police had advised the organizers it would not be safe (not to mention possible) to have the march. The organizers then cancelled the march and retroactively made it a rally or demonstration.

All of which was totally unknown to about 250,000 people ready to march.

Presumably, somewhere people started moving off the parade route and going home, creating room for the crowd in Grant Park (see aerial shot) to take their place. This created enough movement for the Grant Park folks to move onto the streets – designated marching streets and otherwise – creating the sensation of ... wait for it ... MARCHING!

And march BAM did:

As did all those around them:

State Street (🎶that great street 🎶)

Finally, the chaperone suggested that any time BAM wanted to head back home would be okay. And within 10 minutes they were on their way to the El station. This time, though, they boarded early enough that there were seats for all three.

As the train passed the cross streets, it was clear the march had taken over the Chicago Loop.

Shot from the moving El.

A few notes about the March:
  • The crowd was wonderful – friendly and cheerful.
  • Early-on, we spotted some counter-demonstrators heading for the march. We never saw them again, and there was no trouble at all. Chicago Police reported there were no arrests.
  • The chaperone, being an old fart, believes that minds are not changed by vulgar language and images – in fact, they are reasons to shut your mind to the message – and unfortunately there was some of both on a few signs. Too bad about that. But let's face it: Trump set the tone.
  • BAM witnessed very little littering. We came across one sign on the ground. M picked it up and leaned it against a building so it could be read by passers-by.
  • M's parents should know that I saw her slip a five dollar bill to a grateful homeless man. I'm sure they're proud of her, as B's and A's parents are proud of their girls, and of their girls' friends.

1 comment:

Uncle Ted said...

Thanks for this colorful account of this historic day. Women wowed us in Washington, New York, Atlanta--you name a city. BAM, you rock!