1,500 attend sign-waving event, 145 support Women’s March on Washington

LIHUE — When Malia Finazzo-Krueger drove past the throngs gathered along Ahukini Road Saturday, she was cheered by what she saw.

“When I saw all of the people, I was automatically pumped. I waved my sign out of my car window until we found a place to park,” she said.

Finazzo-Krueger joined more than 1,500 other people at the corner of Ahukini Road and Kapule Highway Saturday who were standing in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.

“I heard about the other rallies that were going on all over the world, and I thought it’d be nice to come to the one here,” she said.

The Women’s March on Washington was organized to send a message to the new presidential administration on its first day of office that the voice of women and minorities across the country cannot be ignored. They also marched to show that women’s rights are human rights.

The march on Washington was the brainchild of Theresa Shook, a Maui resident who went on Facebook the night Donald Trump was elected president, saying women should march on D.C.

That idea spread not only across the Mainland but around the globe. According to womensmarch.com, 673 sister marches were organized across the country and in almost 80 countries around the world.

On the Garden Isle, downpours of rain and high, gusty winds didn’t deter marchers.

Jonathan Zenz, who was visiting from Canada, said the rain gave them power.

“We cheer louder when it rains,” he said.

For Zenz, the movement is not a protest — it’s an avenue for people to support one another.

“People say it’s against the government. But we’re stand up for what we require in our lives, like health care and equal rights,” he said. “This demonstration shows it’s not how much wealth you accumulate. It’s about being kind and loving.”

Before they headed out to the Kauai demonstration, Zenz and his friend, Dane Miller, watched the march taking place back in their hometown of Toronto.

“We had a friend live stream the march from the City Hall building, so we were able to watch the city’s support of the cause,” he said. “That was five hours before this one, so it energized us.”

For two hours, a peaceful crowd lined up along both sides of Ahukini Road, holding signs bearing messages like “Overcome, not comb over,” “Girls just want to have fundamental rights,” and “My will is stronger than your hate.”

Demonstrators were met with honks and shouts of support from the cars driving past, which fueled their excitement.

“The joy here has been really palpable,” Zenz said.

For Denise Kaufman of Kilauea, the event was special because it showed how many people were fighting for the same things.

“This affirms we all care about the same things,” she said. “We need to strengthen our community and band together to take action in times of challenge.”

Kapaa resident Finazzo-Krueger echoed with that sentiment.

“Everybody here is on the same page with the same feelings in the same place,” she said.

Kaufman participated in two Saturday demonstrations on Kauai. In the morning, 145 people marched from the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall to the Historic County Building.

“I wanted to make a day of it,” Kaufman said.

That event was organized by Anne Punohu, a Lihue resident.

“I hope Kauai people remember we are a part of the world and we need to stand up and speak out the time for silence is over,” she said.

Punohu said she was shocked to see how many people showed up.

“At 8 a.m., we had about 25 people. We did our moment of silence and then wham — I had the honor of setting the pace. We had men and women children of all ages,” she said. “We were strong going up.”

Washington resident Jess Schumecher was on Ahukini Road, decked out in a pink hat that she had made. She also made dozens of other hats as well as cat ear headbands, which were passed out to the crowd.

“I almost canceled my vacation when I realized I was going to miss the march in Washington,” she said. “Then I saw Kauai was going to have a demonstration while I was there, so I came.”

Three Kauai Police Department officers were on hand to direct traffic and ensure safety. But there were no incidents during the peaceful demonstration, said Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman.

Schumecher said she appreciated that the demonstration was peaceful and positive.

“I love the uplifting message that we’re standing together and speaking out in response to national events,” she said. “There’s no one complaining or name calling, and that appeals to me.”

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