“March, run, vote, win” was the common message at the Women’s and Allies March in Cody City Park on Sunday.
Carrying signs and chanting, the crowd of more than 300 – children, teenagers and adults – circled the park. They also listened to a full roster of speakers and music by Garrett Randolph in the bandshell.
Echoing the message, Cody Mayor Matt Hall laid down a challenge to participate in government. He said three City Council seats will be open this year, as well as three of the five seats on the Park County Board of Commissioners. He urged the crowd to either run for office or seek others who will.
“Now is the time to get involved,” Hall said. “I believe to govern is to serve, not to rule.”
Participation was urged by march organizer Renee Tafoya of Cody, who said “Protest is great. Action is better.”
“Grab them by the midterm,” said the poster carried by Jan Jackson of Cody, who hopes to see a new majority in Congress in 2018. “Don’t be silent,” she urged the crowd. “Don’t let the status quo continue. Do something.”
Attendees were urged to sign a petition calling for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution by overturning the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that corporations are people.
“Corporations are not people,” said Mary Keller of Wyoming Promise, which supports the 28th amendment. “Money is not free speech.”
That cause attracted Zann Liljegren of Cody, who said “we need to change the law so corporations cannot contribute like human beings.” She also came to the march to support human rights, freedom of the press and health care for all.
Carrying a sign that read “Defend dignity,” Laura Bell of Cody said she came to the march to stand for justice, respect, government that works, community and intelligent government.
“I’m here because silence is not an option,” said Ally McIver of Cody. “Science is not fake news.”
In agreement, Geoff Baumann of Powell said, “Science is what makes this country great. Science is being ridiculed, besmirched and unfunded, yet we depend on it.”
He urged people to seek information and make up their own minds to “keep the world in tact.”
“I’m here for my grandchildren,” said Connie Moody of Cody, who hopes to preserve this earth for them and their future.
“I’m glad to be here,” said Noel Two Leggins of Hardin, Mont., chief of staff for the Crow Tribe’s executive branch. He noted that the gathering was taking place on former Crow land, which once encompassed what’s now Yellowstone National Park, until his tribe was confined to a reservation.
“They tried to wipe us out, but we’re still here today,” Two Leggins said. He added Native Americans joined the crowd in their causes, saying “You’re human, just like us. We can speak, we can gather, we can vote.”
Two Leggins also spoke about women’s rights and the missing Native American women, such as his cousin who’s been gone for two years.
“I’m here mostly because women’s rights are human rights,” said Trysa Flood of Lovell, a Northwest College student. “There are a lot of women who can’t do this, and I have the opportunity to share my view and have a voice and stand up for other women.”
Her sign read, “Our rights are not up for grabs, neither are we.”
Immigration rights were stressed by Megan Foot of Emblem, who attended with 6-year-old Delia Hanson and friend Brett Warren of Billings. Hanson’s sign said, “I would have preferred Voldemort.”
“We need to show solidarity,” added Warren, who emphasized two issues, health care and climate change. “[President] Trump lies to us in new and exciting ways each week.” His sign said, “I’ve seen better cabinets at Ikea.”
Along with five others, Jade Smith drove over from Shell to attend the march, saying “We have to be here. We need to secure rights for our children and grandchildren. Freedom of the press is so important.”
“We the people,” read Press Stephens’ sign, the three words that begin the U.S. Constitution. “That means all of us, which is why we celebrate diversity,” he said.
After listening to the speakers and the messages from the sign-holders, Andru Renaud of Powell observed, “I see so much thought and heart here. We need to get educated and continue to fight.
“We can heal by listening to each other. That’s the only way to understand each other.”