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Fayetteville City Councilwoman Sonia Gutierrez participates in the NWA Women's March Feb. 2, holding a sign to encourage women to run for office.

People with signs and banners filled the Downtown Square Saturday morning. They marched four blocks of downtown Fayetteville to express their concerns about women’s issues in Northwest Arkansas.

Some ralliers were more conservative than others, including pastor Vanessa Ryerse.

Ryerse’s adopted daughter, who helped inspire her to accept the invitation to speak at the march, is Cuban and Mexican by heritage. The adoption of her daughter inspired Ryerse to learn about the cultures her daughter had belonged to prior to adoption, Ryerse said.

“We need to understand the complexity of immigrant workers,” Ryerse said. “We need to get out of the place of judging those people and get on their team. I am still a Republican and a Christian, but a very different kind than I used to be.”

Fayetteville councilwoman Sonia Gutierrez, the first Latina elected to Fayetteville’s city council, attended the march with the hope of empowering young Latinas, she said.

“For a long time, I stayed away from women’s marches, but I’m here today,” Gutierrez said. “Women have to get up every day to run this world.”

Other local politicians spoke at the rally, including Arkansas 84th District Rep. Denise Garner (D).

Garner wants to see more women in power in Arkansas, she said.

“The fastest way to fix a broken system is to take it over,” Garner said. “Today’s march marks two years of the fiasco that is the Trump presidency. Two years of training activists and building our power.”

Speakers addressed many political issues, with the most recent being the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling that struck down the 2015 Fayetteville Uniform Civil Rights Protection Article.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan will continue to fight against the ruling, he said.

“I am going to make sure no one in this city gets discriminated against,” Jordan said. “We have the right to peacefully assemble and allow our voices to be heard in the face of justice. We believe love is love regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

Junior Rachel Golden went to the march because she thinks events like these are “changing the world for the greater good,” she said.

“I think that gatherings like this where we simply state that women are to be seen and heard are super important to anyone, whether you are a feminist, a Republican, a conservative or whatever,” Golden said.

Ralliers carried posters, which expressed a variety of opinions, ranging from women’s rights to animal rights. Dozens of ralliers carried posters in support of Planned Parenthood during the march.

“I am out here today because I think the mission of the Women’s March is about reproductive justice and reproductive freedom,” said UA Alumnus Austin Ross, Arkansas coordinator for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

Ross attended the march to sign people up for Planned Parenthood’s lobbying day on Feb. 20.

The event began in the Downtown Square at 11 a.m. and ended at the Fayetteville Public Library at 1:30 p.m.

 

Elias Weiss is the assistant editor of the sports and opinion sections of the Arkansas Traveler, where he worked as a reporter and columnist from 2018-2019. Elias graduated with an AA degree in journalism from Central Piedmont Community College in 2018.

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