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Poughkeepsie Women's March Spans Walkway

Sister marches to the March on Washington D.C. were held across the globe Saturday — from Boston to Budapest, from New York City to Nairobi. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne reports on a march that took place in her region, on the pedestrian bridge Walkway Over the Hudson.

The band played at the Poughkeepsie entrance to Walkway Over the Hudson, sending off a river of participants in the Poughkeepsie Women’s March Across the Hudson. There were no other performers or speakers. Marchers carried mainly handmade signs of many slogans, sizes and colors. Mary DeChristopher came from Ulster Park.

“Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious. I stole it from the Internet but I thought it was very appropriate,” says DeChristopher.

“Why are you marching here today?” asks Dunne.

“We march for women’s rights and human rights, that’s why, because I don’t want what progress we’ve made in the past 100 years to go backwards,” DeChristopher says.

Kingston resident Dale Thompson marched alongside DeChristopher.

“My sign says ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Human Rights.’ And it also says, ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls.’”

The latter slogan was ubiquitous, as was “Women’s rights are human rights.” Another sign read Girls Just Want to Have Funding for Planned Parenthood. And one said, “Ugh, Where do I Start?” At least one poster thanked former President Barack Obama while others called for freshman Republican Congressman John Faso not to cut health care, referring to the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. And there was a sign urging Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president. Cornwall-on-Hudson Mayor Brendan Coyne participated.

“I’m here to show solidarity with the women’s march  all across the country,” says Coyne. “And I think we need to demonstrate to show that we want civil rights to remain in our lives. Very scary what’s going on in our country right now.”

When her bus to the Women’s March on Washington fell through, Poughkeepsie resident Lisa Kaul says she and Paulina Bren decided to make an impact locally and some two weeks ago organized the Poughkeepsie Women’s March Across the Hudson. Here’s Bren:

“We wanted it to be on the Walkway,” Bren says. “We wanted to find a space that was truly democratic and inclusive and also visually impactful.”

Kaul talks about what prompted her to organize.

“I was astounded at the rhetoric during the election, the campaign. And I was not surprised at the outcome of the election but I felt that for far too long  people on the left had been quiet. And I felt this time was ripe for activism,” Kaul says. “As citizens, we have a duty and an obligation to our democracy and it was time to stand up now because if we didn’t stand up now,  our voices would never be heard.”

Milton resident Shelley Tatelbaum hasn’t hit the pavement in the name of activism since the 1960s.

“I’m a grief therapist and I am sad and grieving for our country right now,” Tatelbaum says.

Her sign read, “1960s Hippie Grandmother still marching now for peace, love and equality.”

“Unfortunately, our equal rights, our civil rights are being challenged and this is goosing us to get off our comfy asses, the old hippies, and to march again for what we believe in because we’ve become too comfortable and that’s what this is showing us is that we have to become activists again,” Tatelbaum says. “We can’t sit back and just complain and talk.”

Jared Heggenstaller, a fifth grader from Clinton Corners, says he was impressed by the turnout of thousands and proud to march with his friends.

“I’m marching for women’s rights because the country’s in a very conflicted time after the recent election,” Heggenstaller says. “So I think we should march for civil rights to keep the country together and we need to be strong and be together.”

Wendy McNeil from Wappingers Falls participated.

“I just feel that this new administration stands for everything that America is not,” McNeil says. “I think they’re against diversity. I think they’re against human rights, and we have to stand up for that. I don’t want to look back and say, I could have done something, I should have done something. I think we all have a responsibility to make sure that everyone in this country is safe.”

Marchers came from all over the Hudson Valley as well as from out of state — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several families marched, as did husbands whose wives were marching in Washington.  

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