Several hundred women and their allies filled Congress Street in Portland on Saturday morning for the fourth annual Women’s March to demand equal rights for women and people of all backgrounds.

The march was one of dozens held around the country on Saturday, three years after the first Women’s March rallies drew hundreds of thousands of people nationwide – and more than 10,000 in Portland – the day after President Trump was inaugurated.

Sara A. Tedlow of Lewiston holds a sign she made for Saturday’s Women’s March in Portland. Photo courtesy Sara A. Tedlow

Demonstrators in Portland remained critical of the president, with some carrying signs supporting the impeachment process against him. Others singled out U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for her vote to confirm controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling her “complicit” in an anti-women’s rights agenda.

Sara Tedlow, a Lewiston resident and Jewish American who moved back to Maine from Washington, D.C., three years ago, was among those who marched in the bitter cold.

She cited recent attacks, including a Dec. 28 stabbing of five in a Hasidic rabbi’s home, as reason for concern in America. She said her grandparents immigrated to the United States through New York City, and to see violence there is a stark reminder of the past.

“There is so much anti-Semitism brewing … I’m not recognizing the country that I grew up in,” said Tedlow.

Mia Perron, who held a sign reading “Femi-Nazis against actual Nazis,” said she was there to protest current-day infringement of women’s rights – especially abortion, which Kavanaugh’s critics fear he will oppose from the bench.

“The rights that are being impeded now, at the state and federal level – that shouldn’t happen without protest,” Perron said.

With temperatures in the low teens, marchers were bundled in heavy coats and scarves, and still wore the pink knit hats that have become a symbol of the movement.

Tedlow said she sees Lewiston as a place where racism is still alive. But, according to Tedlow, people are having the tough conversations needed to fight it.

“That’s what we need to do; to raise awareness together, have the conversations and learn about each other. Ignorance is just because you’re miseducated,” said Tedlow. “If you can educate each other, which I’ve been doing my whole life, as the only Jew in a sea of non-Jews, you can shut down some barriers and break down misnomers and come together. We’re more united than divided.”

And for Tedlow, the hatred she sees can only be stopped by conversation and love.

“If we let hate spread, it can only get worse. If we let the love spread, it can only get better.”

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