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Photos: Protesters Rally For International Women's Day, Face Down Counter-Protester

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 9, 2017 5:27PM

Protesters rallied in the Loop Wednesday evening to celebrate International Women's Day with a rally in honor of working women and to call for better healthcare, childcare, eldercare and housing options.

The protesters, carrying signs that read "On Strike For Her" and "If Vaginas Shot Bullets, They Would Need No Regulation, Right?" while they rallied outside the Thompson Center. They also faced down one lone counter-protester who dressed up in a helmet and a T-shirt with a derogatory, misogynist word written on it, and carried a sign mocking people with vaginas.

"This is a crowd I'm proud to have my daughter in," Zerlina Smith, a member of the group Action Now, told the crowd. "This is a day for women of not just being mothers for life, women are the backbone of the city, this country, this world."

Earlier Wednesday morning labor groups staged several smaller actions highlighting working conditions and sexual harassment women face in the workplace.

Hundreds meanwhile, packed the Chicago Teachers Union hall later that evening for another rally which featured a wide variety of speakers representing a large cross section of labor and community groups, along with slam poetry and musical performances.

"This is a very important day in the community with activists we love, admire and respect," Liz Radford, one of the organizer's of the January Women's March on Chicago which drew more than a quarter million people told the crowd. "The women's marches evolved quickly from a very fraught point in history where women's rights and health are more threatened, democracy is in jeopardy, and safety, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech are more and more compromised."

Speakers not only highlighted the struggles women face, particularly under the current administration and GOP Congressional majority which is seeking to roll back hard won civil rights, but also the struggles that trans and non-binary people face.

"I'm a socialist, a queer gender non conforming woman and the proud sister to a brave trans man and I'm afraid. I'm afraid because Donald Trump does things like rescind Obama's executive order which had given trans students like my brother the right to use the bathroom of the gender they choose," said Charlotte Heltai of the International Socialist Organization. "More than being afraid I'm angry, I'm angry at Trump and the people who support him because they do everything they can to encourage the ugly forces of bigotry which already exist in our society."

At the CTU Rally. Photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist

"We're here tonight because earlier this week conservative politicians introduced a bill in the House that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood," Katie Thiede, a representative of the organization, told the crowd. "Planned Parenthood is not a line item in the federal budget. We do not receive a publisher's clearing house check from the government. These funds are reimbursements for care, care that our patients cannot get anywhere else."

Our photographer was at the Thompson Center to capture some of the best and worst of the rally in photos, above.