FARGO -- A crowd of at least 1,000 people turned out here to rally and walk in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other cities on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Women -- and plenty of men-- armed with signs, pushing strollers or clutching coffee cups, poured in from all directions to a large open downtown space near Broadway and Fourth Avenue North for a program at 10:00 a.m. preceding the walk.
Margaret Wollenzien of Moorhead said she came out to help ensure equality for everyone regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
“It’s just important to respect all of our fellow citizens,” Wollenzien said.
Jason Myrmoe of Fargo showed up with his wife and young children to support the rights of women and others, he said, who have been marginalized by the election of President Donald Trump.
“The current administration calls for unity but their actions are very divisive,” Myrmoe said.
The program featured short speeches or statements from more than 20 people representing city government, education, LGBT, Native American, human rights and disability advocacy groups.
“I am so proud to live in Fargo this morning,” shouted Pride Collective Board member Chelsea Pace as she looked out over the sprawling gathering.
Fargo City Commissioner John Strand said he was there to stand up for women in his life -- his mother, aunts and nieces.
“This should be the last time we have to do this,” Strand told the crowd. “The majority of our population is not a minority.”
Hukun Abdullahi, director of the Afro American Development Association in Moorhead, spoke about his concerns over North Dakota House Bill 1427.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Olson, R-West Fargo, would create a way for communities to request temporary bans on new refugee resettlement and grant the governor power to impose such a ban statewide.
Abdullahi said he wants lawmakers to understand that refugees are ordinary people fleeing war, prosecution, terror and are here seeking safety for their families.
“With mutual respect and understanding and acceptance , we can all live among each other in harmony in a community we all call home,” he said.
Following the program, the group began marching south on the west sidewalk of Broadway, toting signs that read “Tweet women with respect” and “Make America kind again.”
The group walked to NP Avenue and headed back north on Broadway toward its starting point. At times, sidewalks on both sides of the street were filled with marchers, who were chanting and singing back and forth.
Sgt. Mark Lykken of Fargo Police said pedestrian traffic was very congested but the department received no citizen complaints.
“The only observation was that it was over-capacity,” Lykken said, adding “but it didn’t appear unsafe and I’m glad it was peaceful.”