The March on Washington, 1963. Women Strike for Peace at the White House, 1961.
I can hear my mother’s voice across decades, sitting across the table from her good friend Millie.
“I don’t ask permission to march,” mom would probably say to Millie when she heard that the National Park Service won’t let women march the day after Trump’s inauguration. “I don’t need a permit to protest.”
And Millie would agree, get up to pour another cup of strong coffee from the percolator sitting on the stove, come back and both she and mom would light up another Pall Mall.
And, oh my god. I wouldn’t even post what mom would have said about Trump.
In those days, before the term “sexist pig” came into popular use, mom would call a guy like Trump a male supremacist.
And some other choice words.
When I was 13, I had a job after school delivering the afternoon newspaper to offices along Beverly Boulevard between La Cienega and Fairfax in Los Angeles. When I was done with my deliveries I would go to the corner of La Cienega and Melrose and sell my leftovers to drivers stopped at the light. I made 3 cents a paper.
In November of 1961 I rode my bike over to the news stand in front of the Rexall Drug Store at Beverly and La Cienega to pick up my papers. I can still see the headline in my head. “Thousands of Women Strike to Protest the A Bomb.”
50,000 women, members of Women Strike for Peace, had marched that day in Washington -on the Mall – and in cities all across the country. Los Angeles included. They were protesting the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Mom and Millie marched. No permission requested. A picture of mom, Millie and thousands of other women was there on the front page, above the fold.
It was not the first or last protest mom took part in.
And she never asked anybody permission to march in a single one.
The Women’s March on Washington will take place January 21st. The Park Service first said that the organizers were too late in asking for a permit. Then they banned all protests on the Mall for days and weeks before and after the inauguration, except for an anti-abortion rally late in January.
Over 100,000 women (and men I assume) have already said they are going to protest Trump on the organizer’s Facebook page.
As a result of the action of the Park Service, I would expect there will be more now.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said at a press conference that this instance is “extremely unique” in that it banned access to public land for protesters for days after the inauguration, according to the fund’s website.
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously, where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access on the Saturday, Jan. 21, and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit,” she said. “What they’ve done is take all of these spaces out of action.”
The fund is prepared to sue so protesters may gather near the White House and the National Mall, she added. “For all of those who are concerned, who are thinking about changing their plans — because that is the unconstitutional effect of what the Park Service and Trump’s inaugural committee are doing — we’re here to say that it is lawful and safe to peacefully march in Washington, D.C., and we welcome everyone to the District of Columbia to engage in their free speech rights,” Verheyden-Hilliard said.
I’m sure mom would be there if she were still with us.
I know her great granddaughter will be there.
Klonsky women have never needed a permit or permission to protest.