One year later, North Forkers back out in the streets for women’s marches

01/23/2018 6:00 AM |

Last January a band of North Fork locals piled into buses for a day-long trip to attend the Women’s March on Washington, joining up with hundreds of thousands of others.

Marches were held again on Saturday, one year later, all over the country. This year, some took to the streets in Port Jefferson and Sag Harbor, and joined an estimated 200,000 people marching in New York City.

Ali Tuthill of Greenport was one of the North Forkers who went to the New York City march with her husband and her three children. She went there for the march in 2017, too.

The 2017 marches followed the inauguration of President Donald Trump, signaling a movement of people who felt certain rights were at stake.

Last year, Ms. Tuthill and her daughter Henley, now 6, marched in support of women’s rights. Since then, she said, as other issues have risen there are additional reasons to march again this year. 

“So much has transpired over the last year that has left my husband and I disappointed, frustrated and dismayed — from the reversal of very important environmental policies that were developed to protect the health and wellness of our planet and people, to the utter lack of respect and support for members of our community who make significant contributions both economically and culturally,” Ms. Tuthill said in an email. “It was important for us to not only show solidarity but to show our children how important it is to take action when you are at odds with the philosophy and/or decision making of our elected officials. It is the heart and soul of democracy.”

Kathryn Casey Quigley, who is the Southold Town Democratic chairperson, attended the the D.C. march in 2017 alongside her sister and mother. This year, they joined a march in Port Jefferson.

The D.C. march was a once in a lifetime experience that inspired her to engage in a year of activism and resistance, she said.

“I remember last year one of the big questions was, ‘Is this just a march, or will there be a movement?’  I think the answer’s pretty clear,” she said in an email. “Last year, we were angry. This year, we’re mobilized.”

Alongside Ms. Casey Quigley was Ulysses Smith, of Cutchogue, who also went to D.C. in 2017. He marched with his wife, Sara, and their two children. He was among attendees who expressed concerns about the current administration and state of the government under President Donald Trump. For him, the march this year was more about “galvanizing action.”

“The damage being done to our country, the institutions of our democracy, our civic culture should be of utmost concern to all citizens, and we need to fight for this amazing country in the way our Constitution prescribes — through electoral politics, civic engagement, calling foul when our government runs astray,” Mr. Smith said. 

Mary Goldman drove from Cutchogue with her daughter and friends, both men and women. She, too, spoke of division in the country.

“I am finding it increasingly difficult to sit still and do nothing in the face of such an appalling president and administration,” she said. The march was also a chance to show her daughter that in a democracy “every person counts and has the power to impact change.”

Eileen Neff, of Greenport, who also went to D.C. last year, went to Sag Harbor Saturday, where a few hundred people marched up and down Main Street and gathered at the windmill at the foot of the Long Wharf.

She said she and six friends with her went to stand with the Dreamers – immigrants who came to America as children – to support health care for all, advocate for comprehensive and fair immigration reform and resist President “racism and environmental policies.”

“I oppose what the Trump administration has done thus far, and fear the direction it seems headed,” she said.

Longtime activist Karen Sauvigne of East Marion took to Sag Harbor’s Main Street as well. As someone who protested the war in Vietnam, and demonstrated against police brutality alongside the Black Lives Matter movement,  she said she wanted to be a part of a community and resist “just sitting back.” It was about making a stand and being visible, she said.

“I show up for these things,” Ms Sauvigne said. She noted that shoppers and shopkeepers out in the village were “overwhelmingly supportive” of the marchers going by.

Sonia Spar, who is a co-chair of Southold Town’s Anti-bias Task Force, joined the crowd in Sag Harbor, too. To her, it was an opportunity to educate her sons about respecting others. Her seven-year-old held a sign that showed his drawing of Earth and the bilingual message “Respeto para Todos/Respect for All”.

“Having my boys walk with me, as were other children, means raising a generation with social consciousness and sense of humanity; that we are all together and we have the responsibility to leave this place better than the way we found it,” she said. “That we cannot keep silent if we see someone not being kind to others. As Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.'”

Photo caption: Liz Casey Searl and Mary Casey  in Port Jefferson on Saturday. (Credit: Kathryn Casey Quigley)

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