By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
As thousands of men and women lined up on South Jackson Street waiting to join Womxn’s March to the Seattle Center on Jan. 20, the Chinatown International District became a vital link of a massive movement.
Organizers estimated that as many as 200,000 people marched in support of justice and equity through the streets of Seattle. Police estimated the crowd was 120,000 strong.
People kept pouring into the International District ID from the tunnel buses, ferries, and from the north and south. At 11:34 a.m., the Indigenous Sisters Resistance, who led the march, rolled onto 12th Avenue South in traditional regalia, while chanting, singing, and praying.
All eight blocks of the ID were transformed — the crowd size almost doubled— without angry or chaos noise, just cheers and applause — walking and moving forward. As more people joined, I imagined we looked like ants from above, merging and spilling onto the sidewalk. When the march proceeded in full swing, it was like a long, powerful dragon wiggling its forceful body into the corner to make its turn.
Three things impressed me about the march. It was peaceful. Police made no arrests. Creativity was abound. Artists rallied volunteers to make puppets of prominent women leaders, such as Rosa Parks who refused to sit in the back section of a bus reserved for Blacks in Alabama. Humorous signs such as a “Pee on Trump” sign mounted on a dog, “Dump Trump,” “Racist in chief,” “Sex offender in chief,” “Commander in creep,” “He doesn’t need a twitter, he needs a sitter,” “We are nasty women,” and “Nasty Forever” were just some of the creative signs.
A substantial number of men were at the march. Some wore the pink pussy hats (symbolizing women’s powerment). One man held a sign that read, “I love nasty women.”
The march took close to three hours to cross through South Jackson Street to 4th Avenue South and onto the Seattle Center. I was happy to witness that the ID was part of this historic march. It was the biggest to pass through Chinatown. The last batch of marchers left the ID at 2:15 p.m.
Impact on ID businesses
Several ID merchants were concerned that the march would hurt their business, especially on one of the busiest days for Lunar New Year shopping. Many participants bought food from Chinatown restaurants while waiting. People were in the ID as early as 9 a.m.
Restaurants on South Jackson enjoyed brisk business during the march. There were lines at Red Lantern Restaurant, Dim Sum King, Vital Tea, and Sun Bakery. Ben Chen, the owner of Vital Tea, said Saturday was the best business day ever since he opened 6 months ago.
The manager at Bartell’s told the Asian Weekly there were 1,400 people in the store from the early morning until the march ended. Some bought drinks, chips, while others used the restroom.
Many ID grocery stores were affected. Hardly anybody was there between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., one owner said. (The Asian Weekly also learned that several downtown businesses shared the same experience.)
“We need to come buy food tomorrow,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, who was marching with Planned Parenthood. Many told the Asian Weekly that they would come back next time to buy food. Some marchers asked me for recommendations on where to eat.
At 5 p.m., marchers returning from the march packed some ID restaurants, including Tofu House and Shanghai Garden. Some went to stores like Uwajimaya.
The day after the march, Lam’s Seafood was so packed before noon that it was hard to find parking. Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim led a group of more than 30 people to visit Lam’s.
Hopefully, Sunday’s boom for ID businesses made up for Saturday’s loss.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.