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Twin Cities takes to the streets for International Women’s Day

By Siobhan Moore

International Women's Day march  in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood

Minneapolis, MN – Around 60 people gathered in Mayday Plaza on Sunday, March 6, for an International Women’s Day protest organized by the Twin Cities district of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Demands for reproductive rights and healthcare for all, justice for missing and murdered indigenous women and two-spirit people, an end to gender-based violence, queer and trans liberation, and justice for all stolen lives were raised. The demonstrators also stood in solidarity with Twin Cities educators preparing to strike, signs reading “Victory to the educators!” dotted the crowd gathered in the square, and similar phrases frequented the speeches given.

As the demonstration began, chants demanding an end to the oppression of women and attacks on reproductive rights and trans rights echoed around the neighborhood. Speakers were heard from many different organizations on the connection of the oppression of women and trans people to the issues they organize around.

Jess Sundin, speaking for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said, “Tuesday is not only the first day of our local teachers’ strike, where they’ll walk the picket line – and we’ll be with them as they fight for safe and stable schools for our kids – it is also the 165th anniversary of the first recorded labor action by women workers!” Detailing the history of the celebration, Sundin went on to say “Hundreds s of New York’s garment and textile workers picket on March 8, 1857.” Decrying the police violence that the strikers were met with, she showed that “they continued until they had marches of tens and 20 thousands of workers.”

How was International Women’s Day set aside as a celebration of that struggle? Sundin explains, “That struggle was seen around the world. In 1910 at the Second International – which was a worldwide socialist party congress – German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed that March8 be proclaimed International Women’s Day to commemorate the United States demonstration and honor working women the world over!” Sundin made clear that the struggle for women’s liberation plays an important role in the struggle for socialism and invited people to join that fight by joining the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Ana Vasquez, an educator, and the second vice president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers Local 59 spoke about the upcoming educators’ strike. “After 50 years, MFT is ready to strike again! Why? Because we have suffered through decades of defunding education to starve public schools and to privatize them. We will not accept this. Public education is a right!” She led the protest in chanting “What do we want? Safe and stable schools! When do we want it? Now!” and “What’s disgusting? Union busting! What’s outrageous? Poverty wages!”

Ali Fuhrman, president of AFSCME Local 2822, talked about the role of women and mothers in the labor movement and decried how working mothers and caregivers in the U.S. can’t even get the support or time to take care of their families.

Speaking for SDS at the University of MN, Bella Harbison and Gillian Rath decried the attacks on reproductive rights, women’s rights and trans people that have been frequent in the past year and longer.

Kelly Thomas of the Twin Cites Coalition for Justice for Jamar stated, “CPAC, the Civilian Police Accountability Commission is how we establish community control of the police. We deserve to determine how we are policed. We deserve to determine how police are held accountable. We deserve to determine how resources are allocated. We deserve to determine what community safety looks like for ourselves and our future.”

A member of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Ashley Taylor-Gougé, a member of the Anti-War Committee, and Katherine Gould from the Climate Justice Committee also addressed the crowd.

After listening to the speakers, the demonstrators lined up behind the banner, and marched onto 3rd Street and around the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Chants of “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” and “Every generation has an obligation for women’s liberation!” As they returned to the rally point, marshals directed people back into the plaza and the demonstration gathered to wrap up with a spirited chorus of chants, while cars driving by still honked in support.

#MinneapolisMN #PeoplesStruggles #InternationalWomensDay #FreedomRoadSocialistOrganization