Indianapolis women’s rally draws thousands

By Shelby Mullis
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — When Terri Siler heard about the Women’s March on Washington, she was determined to bring it to Indiana.

Siler said she thought she would be lucky to have 1,000 people come to push back against President Donald Trump and his agenda, but admitted she was wrong.

Thousands stand outside the Statehouse Saturday to rally for human rights. The Indianapolis rally was a sister rally to the Women’s March on Washington, which took place Saturday in D.C. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Thousands stand outside the Statehouse Saturday to rally for human rights. The Indianapolis rally was a sister rally to the Women’s March on Washington, which took place Saturday in D.C. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Instead, thousands flooded the Statehouse lawn Saturday.

“I’ve covered lots of Statehouse rallies,” Mary Beth Schneider, former government and political reporter for the Indianapolis Star, tweeted. “This is biggest I can remember since labor rallies against prevailing wage changes and right to work.”

Cindy Weiss-Harry, of Indianapolis, worked with Siler to organize the event, and said she hoped for the event to be a way for Hoosiers to connect with a cause they believe in.

“Our goal is to take all these amazing people beyond our expectation and get them involved,” Weiss-Harry said. “We expected excitement, optimism, hopefulness and the focus on moving Indiana forward. This is our reality, and we’re going to keep our long, hard-fought-for equal human rights.”

Mother-daughter duo, Robyn Lawlor, 60, and Jenny Babbitt, 33, made the one-hour drive from Brown County to participate in the rally. Wearing pink hats shaped as cats, in reference to a vulgar term used by Trump, Lawlor and Babbitt had a front row seat.

“Where else would we be today?” Lawlor said. “I’m 60 years old and I feel like I need to be here, not only for my kids, but for my future and the generations to come.”

Babbitt agreed, adding that the human rights must be fought for, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

“There are still a lot of changes to be made,” Babbitt said. “No matter what your gender is, you deserve an equal opportunity to be happy in this world — to get a job, have a family, look however you want. It’s about equal opportunities.”

Speakers included Rep. Carey Hamilton, D-Indianapolis, Wayne County Commissioner Mary Anne Butters, a Republican, and several more representing activist groups across the state.

Robyn Lawlor, 60, and her daughter Jenny Babbitt, 33, clap along to music before the Indiana Women’s Rally begins Saturday morning. The mother-daughter duo drove from Brown County to attend the event. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Robyn Lawlor, 60, and her daughter Jenny Babbitt, 33, clap along to music before the Indiana Women’s Rally begins Saturday morning. The mother-daughter duo drove from Brown County to attend the event. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Twenty-five organizations lined Senate Avenue with booths, offering information and volunteer opportunities to those in attendance.

Indianapolis is one of more than 600 cities to host a sister-rally in conjunction with the Washington D.C. march. An estimated 5,000 Hoosiers traveled Washington D.C. to participate in the main event.

Activist and rally emcee Keith Potts said every age, identity and orientation could be spotted at the event.

“I wish you could see things from where I’m standing right now. Take a moment and look around you,” Potts said. “We are strongest when we are we. We will be one. We are one. We are this movement. We are the resistance. We are the change. We are action. We are the revolution. We are love. That is what we are.”

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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