Several hundred women and their allies filled Congress Street in Portland on Saturday morning for the fourth annual Women’s March to demand equal rights for women and people of all backgrounds.

The march was one of dozens held around the country on Saturday, three years after the first Women’s March rallies drew hundreds of thousands of people nationwide – and more than 10,000 in Portland – the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

Demonstrators in Portland remained critical of the president, with some carrying signs supporting the impeachment process against him. Others singled out U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for her vote to confirm controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling her “complicit” in an anti-women’s rights agenda.

Mia Perron, who held a sign reading “Femi-Nazis against actual Nazis,” said she was there to protest current-day infringement of women’s rights – especially abortion, which Kavanaugh’s critics fear he will oppose from the bench.

“The rights that are being impeded now, at the state and federal level – that shouldn’t happen without protest,” Perron said.

With temperatures in the low teens, marchers were bundled in heavy coats and scarves, and still wore the pink knit hats that have become a symbol of the movement. Turnout was much slimmer than in 2017, when the original Women’s Walk Portland stretched more than a mile along Congress Street from the Eastern Promenade.

Chanting slogans and singing protest songs Saturday, demonstrators walked down Congress Street in a column that wrapped around Pearl Street and continued up Cumberland Avenue.

Afterward, participants headed into Portland High School for an afternoon fair, with music and art projects to participate in, and opportunities to sign up for community organizing.

But before that, on the steps of Portland High, speakers urged the crowd to fight not only for people like them – largely privileged white women – but also for transgender people, people of color and the poor.

“Have we been invited to assuage the consciences of the organizers of this march, or are we true partners?” asked Christine Caufield of the Maine Transgender Network, drawing cheers of affirmation. “Will you take your selfies and go home, or will you change course? Will you act?”

Mindy Bergeron-Lawrence of Poor People’s Campaign Maine explained to attendees the perspective of a low-wage worker.

Bergeron-Lawrence said she has worked at McDonald’s for 17 years and now earns only 20 cents more than an entry-level employee. More than half her paycheck goes to her rent. She can’t afford a car.

She described her life as a “house of cards.”

“Anytime you place a card, you hold your breath, knowing that the slightest jolt, the slightest breeze, could knock it all down,” she said.

“We don’t want life handed to us on a silver platter,” she added. “All we want is to be able to breathe.”

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