By Dorany Pineda
Hundreds of people gathered at the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters on Sunday at noon in Downtown Los Angeles to celebrate and recognize International Women’s Day.
Representative of organizations and collectives spoke to the crowds about the history of violence and oppression committed against women and minority groups.
The masses, led by women of the AF3IRM Los Angeles Organization group in a truck, marched in unison through the streets of Downtown LA.
They were chanting, “We are women, we will resist, we will defeat the imperialists,” and “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The patriarchy has got to go!” with raised fists and signs that filled the streets with electrifying energy.
Women’s advocacy and social justice groups, such as the Transnational Feminist Organization, the Black Lives Matter movement and the East Los Angeles College’s Feminist Club, walked with allies to several government institutions and ended at the Avenida Cesar Chavez bridge.
The importance of women’s visibility, issues and power were reemphasized with speeches and performances.
Representative of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Chris Covington, brought middle and high school students to the rally to give them an “immersive experience into the feminist movement” and to represent the “the trans and queer community of color.”
For Pamela Vazquez, a speaker and member of the women-of-color collective the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade, this event was about reclaiming space.
“Women of color lack safe spaces where they can talk about the issues that concern and affect them. This march gives me an opportunity to voice myself and other women in the community. By taking over the streets, either by marching or biking in them, we are self-empowering,” Vazquez said.
Eric Contreras, an educator, community organizer and founder of southeast LA’s Alivio open mic night in Bell, says he was rallying in solidarity with women and against patriarchy.
“A lot of men don’t step up in defense of women and rape culture because they are shamed for it by other men,” Conteras said.
“(This is one of the many ways that) patriarchy affects men, who are taught never to show weakness or sensitivity, who are told as boys never to cry, whose actions are excused with ‘boys with will be boys.’”
Some of the more prevalent issues that were brought to attention by the marchers included poverty, abortion rights, police violence, transphobia, forced sterilization, immigration, rape prevention and to ultimately bring awareness to women’s continuous struggle for equality.
Last year’s Downtown LA International Women’s March garnered the largest national women’s rally of over 500 women and allies. Since 1909, International Women’s Day is recognized on March 8.