102°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegas women head to D.C. to send a message to Trump

Claudia Keelan, an English professor at UNLV, is averse to crowds. Apart from teaching, working with students and talking to people about books, she said, “I’m a kind of solitary person.”

That didn’t stop her from getting on a plane Thursday morning to attend Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, where she will join as many as 200,000 people who share many of her concerns about women’s rights, immigration rights and preservation of the Affordable Care Act under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Keelan, the author of several books and director of the creative writing program at UNLV, said the message she wants to convey to Trump is this: “We’re watching you. We understand the laws of our country. We understand the channels of protest. We understand our amendments.

“We want the Trump administration and the president-elect to know we are actively engaged in the monitoring of his civil rights records and of the things he’s promised to do,” she said, “which are, from many points of view, illegal and incorrect. … We want to show him who we are, and that’s why we’re going.”

Keelan is one of an estimated 300 people from Nevada who are expected to show up Saturday morning near the U.S. Capitol to participate in the Women’s March on Washington, the centerpiece of a worldwide network of events aimed at promoting women’s rights and human rights. More than 600 sister marches are scheduled around the globe, including three in Nevada, in Las Vegas, Reno and Stateline.

TO THE STREETS

While the march is not directly connected to Trump’s ascent to the nation’s highest elected office, many of those attending say that galvanized them to participate in an event more than 2,000 miles away.

Like Keelan, many of the Nevadans interviewed by the Review-Journal said they have previously been politically active to a point, but this is the first time they’ve been motivated to take to the streets.

“I’m an activist,” said Carissa Snedeker, 60, an executive assistant from Sparks who was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in July and campaigned for presidential contender Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2016, “but my activism tends to be much more door knocking, canvassing, phone banking, organizing volunteers. I’m generally not the kind of person who stands out with a sign.”

But, she continued, “It just felt like I needed to be there. This is a time when to be silent is to be complicit, and I just can’t be silent.

“I feel that the person who is going to become our president is absolutely unfit for the office. And I don’t say that as a partisan thing. I just look at this person, and I’m honestly quite frightened because this is a complicated world, and it’s not soundbites, and it’s not tweets, and it’s not attack everyone who doesn’t agree with you.”

Snedecker broke into tears as she recounted other trying national times — the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic — and the presidents who were in office at the time. Regardless of whether she agreed with their policies, she said, she believed all of them to be competent leaders who genuinely cared about the well-being of the country.

“I just don’t feel that with this man (Trump),” she said. “I’m scared for our country because I don’t believe he loves this country, and I’ve never said that about any other incoming president.”

The political climate, she said, reminds her of the nightmares she had as a waitress, “where you walk into the restaurant but all the seats have changed, the menu’s different, the station goes on forever and you put drinks on your tray and you start to walk them out, and they all start falling off your tray, because no matter what you do, you can’t keep the glasses up, and it’s Mother’s Day.

“That,” she said, “is kind of how it feels right now.”

NUMBERS ‘WILL REGISTER’

Also representing Nevada at the march is Melissa Clary, 35, a Las Vegas resident and past president for the Southern Nevada chapter of the National Organization for Women. Though she has been involved with NOW, she said she is “not usually the picketer on the sidewalk.” But this “is a time where I feel like having the numbers there is what will register with the Trump administration.

“I think people just really want to send a message that women aren’t second-class citizens,” she said, adding that the future makeup of the Supreme Court and what that means for Roe v. Wade, the landmark case upholding a woman’s right to an abortion, is her No. 1 concern.

While Clary, Snedeker and Keelan spoke openly about their reasons for participating in the March on Washington, others were reluctant to talk for fear of retaliation. Among them was Allison Halpin, who told a Las Vegas TV station about her plans to march in Washington with other members of her family. The story prompted so much of a backlash, she said, she no longer wanted to comment.

The specter of negative feedback also deterred a second UNLV professor from wanting to disclose her name. She plans to attend the March on Washington with her young, mixed-race daughter and feels it’s important “to make it known that I don’t support this president or the kind of hate speech that he’s been encouraging and participating in.”

Taking her daughter to the march, the professor said, “is a way for her to be aware that there is a movement out there, that there are people who are standing beside her and that support her, and I want her to be active and understand that she does have a voice.”

Contact Lucy Hood at lhood@reviewjournal.com or 702 387-2904, Follow @lucyahood on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
House committee OKs bill by Titus for airport signs

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Wednesday to translate airport signs into multiple languages to assist tourists and others who don’t speak English.