On 50th Anniversary of Roe, Denverites March for Abortion Justice, Women’s Rights: See Moments Here

A+protester+chants+carries+a+sign+saying+I+am+woman%2C+hear+me+roar+during+the+2023+Womens+March+on+the+16th+Street+Mall.+The+line%2C+originally+from+the+song+I+Am+Woman+by+Helen+Reddy%2C+is+commonly+used+in+abortion+rights+protests.

Carly Philpott

A protester chants carries a sign saying “I am woman, hear me roar” during the 2023 Women’s March on the 16th Street Mall. The line, originally from the song “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, is commonly used in abortion rights protests.

Carly Philpott and Peter Philpott

Spurred by last year’s Roe v. Wade reversal, Iranian Mahsa Amini protests, and anti-trans legislation across the United States, a few hundred Denverites rallied around the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 22 for the 2023 Women’s March.

The first Women’s March was held in January 2017 in response to Trump’s inauguration. This year, the nationwide march was held on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Madison, Wisconsin. Denver’s satellite march was organized by K.C., a recent Denver transplant from Louisiana.

“Rallies are great, they’re important,” K.C., 39, said. “The visibility is incredibly important, but it’s equally important to get people together that want to continue action, and give people a course of action.”

After the rally ended, K.C. spoke with marchers, many of whom wanted to remain in contact for further community organizing. Though not affiliated with any organizations in Colorado, K.C. worked with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in Louisiana, and helped found Reproductive Freedom Acadiana.

“After the Dobbs decision, I connected with people…and started a grassroots local organization that is still going,” K.C. said.

After moving to Colorado in July, K.C. said she wanted to get more connected and involved in local movements, which led her to events like this Women’s March.

Though not officially affiliated with the Women’s March organization, K.C. had several volunteer chants leaders and marshals, who protected protesters from traffic. One of these marshals was Michael Hommel, who led marchers down the 16th Street Mall, made buttons, and advertised the march on Facebook. Another volunteer was Sierra Mitchell, 24, who called herself “a loud voice” in the protest.

“It’s kind of frustrating sitting at home and doing nothing and you kind of just wallow in your own self pity,” Mitchell said. “So my way to battle that was to get active.”

For most of the volunteers and protesters, this was not their first march. Many, like volunteer Jordan Eisel, had been there in May, when the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade had leaked, and again in late June, when the official decision came out.

“I got off work early, and I was here,” Eisel, 30, said of the June 24 protests. “For me, it’s about bodily autonomy more than anything. The government can’t take organs from a dead person to keep someone else alive. They can’t use my uterus for the same reason.”

But others were there for reasons besides abortion justice. Outside the Capitol, demonstrators from Woman, Life, Freedom, who protest the ongoing theocracy, oppression, and unethical executions of activists in Iran, shouted chants for other protesters, held signs, and waved Iranian flags. The leader of the group, Anir Tosh, had a megaphone that could be heard two blocks away.

“I’m originally from Iran. I came here in 1978,” Tosh, 63, said. “When you live in this great country, you learn about democracy. [I] want to transfer this democracy to the other part of the world, because democracy is great.”

Regardless of their reason for marching, protesters were enthusiastic and united. K.C. and her volunteers expressed gratitude for people showing up so well, even with how quickly the march was organized.

“I’m so grateful that so many people came out and it was a great turnout and it was good to see especially with such short notice,” Mitchell said. “It gives me hope.”

See moments from the march below.