OGDEN, Utah, Jan. 23, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Judi Amsel said she was excited when she first heard about the women’s march planned in Washington D.C. and mentioned it to a neighbor.
“Why don’t we do our own?” her neighbor asked, and that simple question was the beginning of a major event in Ogden.
Amsel has a Ph.D. and plenty of experience as a leader in business and the Ogden community. But this rally was a new adventure for her.
“I cornered (former Ogden City councilwoman) Amy Wicks for advice and ideas on how to get this going,” Amsel told Gephardt Daily. “She encouraged me and gave me pointers for getting it organized.”
Amsel put the word out on Facebook early in January, letting her friends know, “I’ve organized this rally to bring together people who want to support each other and take action for positive change in challenging times.”
People started sharing the date, Saturday, Jan. 21, and spreading the word of a Unity Rally to meet in front of Ogden’s Union Station on Wall Avenue. From there, participants would march down Historic 25th Street and gather in front of Ogden’s Municipal Building at 25th and Washington Boulevard. The event was scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m.
“I got there at 1:45,” Amsel said, “and saw a couple of people coming with signs. I really had no idea what to expect. Then I looked around and realized the Union Station lobby was full of people.”
The crowd in the lobby was staying warm, but the group didn’t have official permission to gather there. Amsel quickly brought everyone outside as more people were showing up with banners and signs, some hand-drawn in crayon and marker, some appearing to have been professionally printed.
“We didn’t get an exact head count, but there were probably as many as 500 people who came out to march,” Amsel said.
It was an orderly event, with everyone — from grandmas and grandpas to babies in their mothers’ arms — walking along 25th Street in groups, waiting for green lights before crossing the street, waving to the passing cars, and occasionally breaking out in boisterous chants for unity and equal rights.
At the Municipal Building, Amsel and Wicks used a microphone and speaker to address the crowd, outlining the purpose of the rally and encouraging people to get active in their community and government.
The marchers were very clear about their reasons for being there.
Christopher Dominguez, who attended the rally with his wife, Christina, said President Trump’s policies and cabinet don’t represent the majority of the people.
Pam Stalnaker carried a sign saying she was there for her grandchildren’s future.
“We’re the majority,” Stalnaker said. “It’s our job to have a voice. We went through this in the ’70s.”
Ogden resident Kathleen Watts said, “I’m a protector of rights, not a protester.”
Watts said she was feeling hopeless on the day of the inauguration.
“I thought, it’s time for the good fight,” she said. “Hope defeats hopelessness.”
Vanessa Watts, Kathleen’s daughter, lives in Layton and works at Primary Children’s Hospital. She said she was glad to join the rally with her mother.
“The authority of our country being threatened hurts my soul,” Vanessa said. “We need to stand up and protect the rights of the people.”
Kathleen looked proudly at her daughter, then said, “I guess speaking as a grandmother, I have to say, ‘Not on my watch.’ We can’t let things fall apart on our watch.”
Wicks has started an open Facebook group, Northern Utah Unity, where people can share ideas and information about upcoming events. Wicks also plans to host a live streaming of Saturday’s Unity Rally from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 1, at the Roy Public Library, 2039 W. 4000 South.