The protest signs have been put away, but organizers of the Women’s March on Austin, which drew as many as 50,000 people downtown Saturday, said the event was just the beginning.
“There was a tremendous show of support behind the message that women’s rights are human rights,” lead organizer Melissa Fiero said. “I was stunned that the turnout was considerably larger than what we had (imagined) in our wildest dreams.”
Participants from across the state descended on the Capitol, many of them arriving via 35 chartered buses that traveled to Austin. One hour before the march, volunteers had run out of the 30,000 stickers they were handing out to participants. Capital Metro, which added 14 extra buses for the event, also saw a bump of more than 2,400 additional mobile tickets purchased on its app, compared with the previous Saturday. Austin also saw a spike in bike riders Saturday. According to Austin B-Cycle, it registered 839 trips Saturday, compared with 435 on a typical Saturday in January.
Now, though Austin streets might seem quieter, organizers are looking at ways to translate that momentum into action.
In the next few days, Fiero said, local groups will be coming together to develop strategies to “continue to motivate and activate” Texans. The local women’s march, along with the sponsoring organizations Texas Freedom Network and Annie’s List, has begun encouraging all volunteers, protesters and people interested in staying connected to text “Why I March” to 97779 to opt in to a registration system that captures contact information. Organizations will send follow-up information to those who are part of the database.
The local women’s march, which was one of many sister marches across the country, also plans to mirror the efforts of the national movement started by the Women’s March on Washington. According to The New York Times, organizers of the national march intend to “study the protests in all 50 states to identify issues and recruit volunteers to gear up for the 2018 midterm elections.”
After Austin’s Inauguration Day protest, organized by the One Resistance coalition, local organizations planned to create an online community resource guide to connect what they consider “targeted” communities with existing programs and services that offer local support and assistance.
“My biggest hope is that women, both those who are getting involved for the first time and those who have always been involved, work for change together at the local level,” Fiero said.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Women’s March on Austin brought together as many as 50,000 people in downtown Austin. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the march, which was one of many sister marches around the world:
30,000 march stickers distributed by 11 a.m.
6,593 Rapid Bus 801 riders on Saturday vs. 3,498 last Saturday
839 Austin B-Cycle trips vs. 435 on a typical Saturday in January
250 march volunteers
84 portable toilets
35 buses that arrived from other cities
48 days to plan the march
14 extra Capital Metro buses added for the event
4 hours spent cleaning signs and trash off Capitol grounds
3 trips for more toilet paper
Sources: Austin B-Cycle, Capital Metro, Women’s March on Austin