AUGUSTA, Maine — A day after President Donald Trump took the oath of office, thousands of Mainers gathered to demonstrate that his vision of America is not theirs.
A flowing river of pink and orange, old and young, male and female, Muslims and Unitarians flooded the State House complex Saturday for the Women’s March on Maine. The largest of the Maine planned protests, tied to a national anti-Trump event in Washington, D.C., drew approximately 10,000 to 12,000 people to Augusta in the name of reproductive rights and a broad spectrum of human rights.
Joining the marchers converging on the State House was Maggie Peirce, a 12-year-old from Fryeburg, wearing a pink knitted hat. She came to Augusta because “we are equal and want to be heard.”
Though too young to vote, Peirce had an opinion on the new commander in chief: “I don’t think he is good for the United States.”
Her voice was reflected in thousands of others in the largely upbeat throng.
They came from Peaks Island, Surry, New Gloucester and the University of Maine in Orono. They came to stand up for health care, for their children’s future, for the environment and for their freedoms.
Representing a cross-section of the state — from college students to schoolteachers to feisty 60-year-olds who protested the Vietnam War — people found common ground on their side of a politically divided nation. Frequent cheers of approval punctuated the air as prominent female speakers took to the podium.
Activist Lois Galgay-Reckitt, now a Democratic legislator representing South Portland, addressed the crowd who applauded and roared approval.
“We demand an end to assault, violence and rape,” Galgay-Reckitt, a domestic abuse advocate, said.
Now that Trump is in the White House, speakers Saturday proclaimed that the work for those in attendance has just begun. Galgay-Reckitt emboldened the crowd to “lift half of the female race to full equality and half of the male race to full understanding.”
Seconding that motion was Mira Ptacin, who came from Peaks Island with her two small children. Though living closer to Portland, where a march was held, she went to Maine’s seat of government “to make more of an impact.” With peace signs on her cheeks and carrying a placard that read “I didn’t come from your rib … you came from my vagina,” she was doing just that.
Demonstrations of anti-Trump sentiment went beyond words. A massage therapist from Bangor was topless and graphically vivid with words written on her torso.
Standing in the mild January day didn’t seem to faze the shirtless 27-year-old, who said, “it’s nothing compared to the cold that immigrant women without homes have to endure.”
She demonstrated topless to send a message to Trump. “My sexuality is my power,” she said. “He is a sexist and a pig. I am not going to stay silent as a fascist uses women as a tool.”
Standing nearby, two men, one of them Don White of Bucksport, took their shirts off in solidarity.
Many in the crowd — from Army veterans to retired schoolteachers to lawyers — said they already feel maligned by the new administration, but Ptacin and her husband, Andy Jackson, were energized by the movement.
“This is a kickoff for our life change. If Trump had not been elected president, we would remain complacent,” said Ptacin, who worries environmental policies are under assault. “If Hillary had won we would be rolling with it,” she said. “Now we are doing a 180.”