GREENFIELD — Thousands of people stood elbow-to-elbow on the Town Common Saturday afternoon, collectively chanting “Stand up for what is right” and “Together we are strong.”
The crowd gathered for the Women Standing Our Ground Rally, which was held at 12:30 p.m. in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.
Looking out over the sea of people, the crowd was speckled with women wearing pink “pussyhats,” a response to President Donald Trump’s caught-on-tape remarks about grabbing women by their genitalia. The throngs of women were joined by men and children, many of whom hoisted colorful signs in the air to protest Trump’s inauguration.
Eve Brown-Waite of Deerfield, who attended the rally with her husband John Waite, proudly held a sign reading, “Don’t Trump on me.”
“I’m here because I believe this is the United States of America that we want to have,” Brown-Waite said. “We have to create it. We are and we will.”
The Women Standing Our Ground Rally was not Brown-Waite’s first women’s rally. She had been to a rally in Washington, D.C. many years ago. However, the event was a first for her husband.
“This is really unbelievable,” he said, looking around at the swarm of people and signs. “This is people coming together for positive change, I think … I think it’s mostly about being together.”
Women Standing Our Ground Rally co-organizer Mary McClintock was one of several speakers who spoke from the steps of Greenfield Town Hall, and said the turnout and success of the rally was “beyond (her) wildest dreams.” McClintock said the millions of people who turned out for women’s marches and rallies around the globe was a testament to the ability of one person to make a difference.
“This is the story of the power of one woman,” she said, explaining how the idea for the Women’s March on Washington first began. “Look what has grown from that seed of an idea.”
“I put that seed of an idea in the fertile ground of friends and community,” McClintock continued. “What we are is a big, glorious plant with deep roots, many branches and ripe fruit …(We) are the seeds for more action.”
Peggy Brown of Leyden, for whom the Greenfield event was her first rally, said she felt inspired by McClintock, the other speakers and the overall atmosphere. She and her friends discussed signing petitions and writing letters to government officials moving forward.
“We’re all very inspired,” she said. “I’m feeling a strong sense of unity, among men and women, for our rights. And I’m feeling like I can take more steps.”
Charlotte McLaughlin of Shelburne said she hopes that through collective action like the rally, Americans can ensure women’s rights don’t take a step backward.
“We don’t want to go back,” she exclaimed. McLaughlin remembers the 1960s, and commented on the progress women have made, citing equal pay laws and Title IX.
Greenfield Police Sergeant Dan McCarthy estimated the crowd to include more than 2,000 people, and described the rally as “a very good, peaceful event.” In addition to McCarthy, he said around 15 “peacekeeper volunteers” in green vests assisted to keep everyone safe.