To coincide with the national Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, local planners are organizing a rally in Augusta to take place the same day.

“It’s a sister rally,” said organizer Stephanie Harmon McLain, 31.

“We want to show people that people want to band together and stand up for all the groups that have been marginalized by the upcoming presidential administration,” Harmon McLain said. Those groups include women, immigrants, the disabled, the LGBTQ community and climate change advocates, among others. It is not limited to women, she said.

“We’re not going to let this rhetoric happen, and we’re not going to back down if they come after these groups’ rights,” the Farmington resident said. “The statements made by the president-elect have angered a lot of people.”

Organizers also have noted behavior by Gov. Paul LePage, who endorsed Trump, that they find troubling.

While she’s been politically active for years, Harmon McLain never has organized a rally before. In the wake of the presidential election, she created a Facebook group called Maine Stand Up and Be Heard, and that’s where she first heard about the Women’s March on Washington and started thinking that something should be planned for Augusta.

The event page discussion, “Women’s March on Augusta!,” was made public Tuesday, and as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, nearly 700 people have said they are interested in going, 116 indicated they will attend and the event has been shared more than 1,600 times.

Because it’s a public page, some dissenting comments have been posted.

That has surprised Meaghan Carlson, 38, who has spent some time in community organizing in Gardiner, where she lives. She characterized the comments as combative and negative.

“That’s why we’re doing this, to combat the negative attitude, but I guess that depends on what point of view you are looking at,” she said.

Both the national Women’s March on Washington and the Augusta rally are scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 21.

The national event had been planned for the National Mall, but organizers were unable to secure a permit because other groups requested it first. The march will take place at the Lincoln Memorial.

More than 1,700 people are expected to travel to the nation’s capital from Maine, including many from central Maine.

The Augusta event is scheduled to start between the State House and the Burton M. Cross State Office Building. It’s expected to include speakers, and opportunities for community organizations and causes to share information.

Harmon McLain said organizers are putting together a list of speakers, and as that list shapes up, it will be publicized.

“Maybe this is a place where people can find someone to work with, or get involved with a group or an organization,” she said. “There are a lot of things that could happen.”


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