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Buffalo's Women's March says #MeToo

"Together we resist. Together we rise up. Together."

Activist and college professor Tanya Loughead led the chant, early in Sunday's Women's Solidarity March in Buffalo. The event drew thousands to the steps of City Hall, marching through downtown and then back to City Hall for more speeches - an outgrowth of the national march in Washington, D.C. exactly a year before and a protest against the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We're sticking together and we're not settling," Loughhead said to applause. "There's a renewed energy since Trump was elected. We know that both Buffalo and the U.S. have recorded their largest protest in history."

The local event centered on women's rights issues, but there were a lot of issues within that theme, including missing indigenous women across North America to the rights of transgender people to abortion rights to immigration.

Marge Maloney was there to attack a president whose name she would not use, calling him only "45."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"He's cut funding for Planned Parenthood and all women's organizations," said Maloney. "His whole idea is to send women and people back to 1950. He gives himself and his flunkies this mammoth tax break and then says, 'We really don't have any money to fund child health care because we just don't have it.' That's nonsense."

There were those whose views were stronger than that, about the president and his political positions.

"When I went down to the rich man's house and I took back what he stole from me...."

That was the Women's Resistance Revival Chorus, which performed at the march.

"I would have been considered a Dreamer, a alien when I was a kid," said Esperanza. "I didn't get my citizenship until 1996 and my parents were just amazing to immigrate here and leave a very unsafe country in South America and I was able to go to school and graduate school and move to Buffalo to work at the Albright-Knox. So I've been very fortunate and this is my new hometown."

Congressman Brian Higgins flew in from Washington for the rally, leaving a city consumed with the issues of immigration. Higgins says rallies like this are important because it sends important messages, citing the 1970 push of the first Earth Day, quickly followed by groundbreaking environmental legislation.

"Signed into law by a Republican pro-business president by the name of Nixon because it passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate," Higgins said. "People ask how that occurred. Was Nixon a closet Greenie? Was he a closet environmentalist? They said no. People demanded it and they had to make the change."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the crowd at the steps of Buffalo City Hall.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, citing a Saturday appearance in Seneca Falls - the birthplace of the women's right to vote - told the crowd the country is changing and more women need to run for office and be elected to see some of the issues marchers were pushing put into place.

"One-hundred years from now, when they celebrate the bicentennial of women winning the right to vote, what will they say about us?" Hochul asked the crowd. "What did we do to deserve recognition? And I know the answer now. The #MeToo movement is going to change society forever and we are changing."

Matthew Jackson was there with his wife and two young daughters. He said they came for his daughters.

"I'm here because this is our opportunity to speak truth to power," said Jackson. "There's a massive amount of injustice happening and, frankly, as a father and citizen, can't abide by it."

There were a lot of young people in the audience, with many saying they want a different world.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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