Thousands march for women in Roanoke

Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7
Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: Jan. 21, 2017 at 4:51 PM EST
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In Roanoke and in cities all across the United States, equal rights were at the forefront of discussion as thousands marched for women on Saturday.

Nearly 3,000 people turned out Saturday for the march in Roanoke, according to organizers.

"I think people have said anywhere between 2500 and 3000, which is amazing, absolutely amazing," co-organizer Djuna Osborne said.

The numbers were much higher than organizers originally expected.

"I literally thought that it would be 50 people and we'd just kind of be like waving to cars at Mayor's Monument," Osborne said.

They were loud and proud in Elmwood Park, fighting for what they feel is an attack on women. Men, women and children of all ages marched through the streets to show how upset they truly are.

"I'm afraid that this current presidency is going to try to retract and repeal and replace all the progress that's been made," marcher Jane Johnson said.

The march is a 'Sister March' to the one that happened in Washington, D.C., Saturday. Roanoke and other cities all across America did it at the same time to show support.

"Our girls are up in Washington, they're marching right this minute and we're doing our thing here in Roanoke to support them. It's not about a political issue for us it's about human beings, Americans, and everybody having the opportunity to flourish," Vic Layman, a marcher, said.

Local leaders like Delegate Sam Rasoul encouraged the crowd to speak up and be heard.

"I am afraid for women's rights and for gay rights and I think that we need to step up and we need to show that we are powerful. There were so many people that were just awesome and they're just right along with us," marcher Hannah Boehringer said.

Marchers said they'd be doing this even if Donald Trump wasn't president. And this isn't about politics, it's about making sure women have the same education health and economic opportunities as everyone else.

"I really think that what happened in this election is that hate and the rhetoric of hate really became stronger than anything else. It's incredible I mean this is history in the making and that Roanoke had such an incredible turn out just speaks volumes for us," Women's March On Roanoke Co-Organizer Djuna Osborne said. "We had thought about going to Washington and a good friend said keep it local and after Bob Goodlatte had sort of done his middle of the night legislation I thought yeah let's send a message to the people who are closest to us and that's what we decided to do."

Positive vibes filled the streets, and some feel that wave is the start of something big.

"I was there on Aug. 28, 1963, at the 'I Have a Dream' speech when Martin Luther King did that in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, and this is the biggest moving movement that I have seen since that time and I hope that it keeps on going," Robert Shepard, a marcher said.

Roanoke Police say the original permit was only for about 500 people. But nothing got out of hand and police say everyone was on their best behavior