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Women’s March on Olympia expected to draw thousands to Capitol

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 16, 2017, 5:41 p.m.

The Legislative Building is illuminated Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
The Legislative Building is illuminated Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

As hundreds of thousands of women across the United States gather Saturday to march for equality, Olympia won’t be left out.

An estimated 2,500 women are expected to gather at the Capitol’s Tivoli Fountain at 10 a.m. and march down Capitol Way toward the Olympia Farmers Market. There, they’ll turn around and march back to the Capitol for a rally.

“It’s gone way beyond what I dreamed,” said organizer Caitlin Gallup. “But in a good way.”

Gallup, a speech pathologist in a small Southwest Washington school district, said the Women’s March on Olympia will be a localized version of a much larger march in Washington, D.C. She learned about the national event after the November election, and contacted organizers to see if there was a Washington state version.

There wasn’t, so the national organizers encouraged Gallup to create one.

“I started the page on the evening of (November) 10th, and it just blew up,” Gallup said.

The Facebook page for the event states that the Olympia march isn’t an “anti-Trump” event because marchers don’t want to be defined or limited by President-elect Donald Trump, who will be sworn into office Friday.

And the march isn’t just for women, Gallup said. It’s for anyone who believes in equality – racial equality, gender equality, etc.

Deborah Ross, who lives in Lacey’s Panorama, said three busloads of people from the retirement community signed up to attend the March on Olympia. And there’s an attendee wait list.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for men and women to say they’re supporting human rights of all sorts,” Ross said.

Ross said she’s been active in human rights efforts since the 1960s, and thinks Panorama residents are especially interested in the march because they’ve see so much in the past 30 to 40 years.

“A lot of people here have lived through some hard times,” Ross said.

In the run-up to the march, Ross has been busy knitting pink hats with cat ears for people to wear. The hats, commonly referred to as “Pussy Hats,” have gained popularity nationally, and patterns are available online at pussyhatproject.com.

Ross said many women she knows aren’t comfortable saying the name and call them “pink hats” instead.

She has knitted four, and one of her hats will go with Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby to the march in Washington, D.C.

Curt Hart, a state Department of Enterprise Services spokesman, said the estimated 2,500 marchers makes the March on Olympia one of the Capitol’s larger events, but not the largest. To accommodate the big gathering, the state will provide portable toilets.

Ultimately, Gallup hopes momentum generated by Saturday’s event will continue for years. She hopes people throughout the state will keep an eye on government and continue their interest in equality.

“We need to keep the enthusiasm going,” Gallup said. “Who knows? Maybe this will become an annual event.”


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