women's march 2018 1

A protester wearing the signature pink knit hat to the Women's Resistance movement sits among a crowd of protesters gathered on Bo Diddley Community Plaza to listen to speakers before marching down University Avenue to raise support for female involvement in the American political process. Donations were collected for areas affected by the 2017 hurricane season.

Jordan Bourne / Alligator Staff

A year after women marched in Washington, D.C., following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, protesters put back on their pink-knitted hats, picked up handwritten signs and marched down West University Avenue on Sunday afternoon.

About 450 people met on Bo Diddley Community Plaza, which was covered in chalk-written messages, including “Destroy the hetero-patriarchy” and “#IMPEACH.” Genevieve Curtis, the event organizer, told the crowd they were “fighting the good fight.”

Twelve speakers, including education advocate Chanae Baker and domestic violence survivor Alexandria Davis, shared inspirational messages and talked about women’s issues, such as voter involvement and gender equality.

Then, the crowd marched down West University Avenue to Southwest 13th Street and back.

As the marchers paraded on sidewalks, restaurant employees stood outside clapping and drivers honked. One motorcyclist loudly revved her engine to show support.

Organizations tabled on the plaza, including Be the Kind, a local volunteer group accepting donations of menstrual products and undergarments for homeless women.

“There are often women who choose between buying food or buying hygiene products,” said Lisa Merlo Greene, the group’s founder. “To us, having to choose between your dignity and eating just seemed like such a horrific choice to make.”

Molly Ayers, a 16-year-old dual-enrolled Santa Fe College student, sat on the grass with her family and listened to the speakers. She attended last year’s March for Science and Women’s March in Tallahassee with her mother and enjoys being politically active.

“I like to do these marches because I like to make a difference,” she said. “Someday I’ll tell my grandkids, ‘I was at the women’s marches, and I made a change.’”

Ayers hopes to one day become a marine biologist and work for a sea turtle conservation. In the meantime, her concerns range from North Korean missiles to depleting environmental protections under the Trump administration, she said.

She wore a handmade pink beanie and carried a sign depicting Trump as a dinosaur about to be hit by a Korean missile.

“We have a tyrant for a president,” Ayers said, explaining her drawing. “He has political beliefs that don’t belong in the modern world.”

Curtis said she had never organized an activist event before Sunday, but she began planning this march a month ago after noticing a lack of Women’s March events in Gainesville. She said she will host the event next year, and it will be “bigger and better.”

“I think what we saw today was an absolutely inspiring declaration of the community that they’re not gonna tolerate the lesser treatment of women,” she said. “We’re going to speak power to truth, and we are going to remove people who abuse their power.”

Contact Amanda Rosa at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @amandanicrosa.