Yesterday was International Women's Day, and in the United States, it was A Day Without A Woman — a nation-wide strike planned by organizers of the Women's March. Women were encouraged to strike from labor — paid and unpaid — if they were able to; to wear red; and to avoid making purchases, except from small, women- or minority-owned businesses. Rallies and marches were also planned across the country, and in New York, there were two: one beginning at 12 p.m. at Columbus Circle, and another beginning at 4 p.m. at Washington Square Park.
Early in the afternoon, police arrested thirteen women for "disorderly conduct" when the rally at Columbus Circle made its way to protest outside Trump Tower. The women arrested included four of the event's main organizers: Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland. They were taken to the NYPD's 7th precinct.
According to TIME, the women were kept two to a cell. They sang 'We Shall Overcome," 'This Little Light of Mine' and gospel songs as they waited to be released.
BUST joined the supporters outside the precinct around 7 p.m., where around thirty women — plus a few men — were waiting. The police let the women they had arrested out one at a time, staggering the releases; it took until a few minutes before 10 p.m. for the final release.
This means that the women were detained up to eight hours — for peacefully protesting.
The people waiting outside the precinct included the organizers who had been arrested and then released; the organizers who had not been arrested; worried friends and family; and protestors who had seen the call on social media asking for support outside the precinct. Some were new to activism; others had been involved in activism for decades. From time to time, people passed around food and water to share — BUST brought pizza — and many hugs were given.
BUST briefly spoke to Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland after they were released.
"I feel bold, I feel empowered, I feel grateful to be out here using my voice and having the opportunity to use my voice to stand up for women, all women of all backgrounds," Sarsour told BUST.
Asked if she thinks future protests will be met with more arrests, she said, "I think we're seeing much more escalation. We need to find more nonviolent ways of sending messages to the administration, and — even on a local level — to talk about the issues we care about. We'll see this on a whole range of issues. We've seen consistent organizing since the Women's March on Washington, and we'll continue to see a lot more."
She added, "I think the media has really paid attention to resistance in a way they haven't in a long time. People like me, who have been organizing for 16 years in places like New York City, are feeling like the media is finally understanding the importance of resistance, especially under this administration. I want the media to continue with the facts — no alternative facts! — and making sure they hold this administration accountable."
Bob Bland, who was released some time later, spoke with BUST about the importance of civil disobedience.
"I think that historically, acts of civil disobedience have been a huge part of expressing our commitment to civil rights and women's rights throughout the civil rights and women's rights movements," she said. "For me, I don't want the Trump administration or anyone watching us to feel like we are going to back down or cop out when it comes to women's rights as human rights, and the rights of the marginalized people among us.
"For myself as a white woman with privilege, it was in this case my privilege to stand together with people of color, with undocumented immigrants, with folks from the trans community, with folks who otherwise would perhaps not be treated as well. It's very important for us to use that privilege, whichever that privilege may be, to protect the most marginalized among us."
She added, laughing, "I will just say one last thing, A Day Without A Woman was definitely a day without us."
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