- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - For the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women, last Thursday night was a sign of the time.

The women and men making protest signs at the New Haven Free Public Library gathered in solidarity to prepare for the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. There also will be marches in Hartford and Stamford that Saturday.

It will be one day after Donald Trump is inaugurated president, an event that those who got together Thursday said they had a hard time stomaching.

“I’m furious at the disrespect, not only to women but to everyone,” said Barbara Paight of Milford. “I am just furious that we elected a man that degrades people, that talks down to people. . I’m a ball of emotions right now, none of them good.”

While many of the women- and some men -who were creating signs to bring to one of the marches were concerned about women’s issues, such as reproductive rights and defending Planned Parenthood, they were angry about a lot more.

“I just feel like it’s really important, given the upcoming administration, to make it clear that the majority out there (supports) women’s rights, refugees’ rights, immigrant rights, rights for gays, lesbians, transgenders, queers,” said Christine Ruman of West Haven. “To be American is to be inclusive and to hold up everyone that lives here.”

Signs reflected the dismay and solidarity the group felt: “Make Racists Afraid Again,” ”Love Has No Gender” and “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” were among the slogans emblazoned on the multicolored signs.

For some, the protest is personal. “I got out of college and I was told by my boss that ‘this isn’t a job for a woman,’” said Mina Becker of Milford. The job was handling workers’ compensation claims, and Becker sees the same attitude in Trump. “Nobody is exempt from his attacks unless you’re a white, wealthy man,” she said.

“I’m scared for our country . and this is the only thing I feel that I can do to feel safe,” said Joan Shumaker of Milford. She’s also concerned for her son, a 2015 West Point graduate. “As an Army mom I think Trump is going to play with the military like they’re toy soldiers instead of human beings. I’m extremely worried.”

Natalie Osborne of Milford said the signs were a vital part of the march. “I feel like, in an interesting way, this is art, and art is always a part of any protest. . It has the words and the image that are bringing the message home to people.”

Josh Arnold of New Haven questioned Trump’s fitness to be president. “I just think that he doesn’t learn. . He’s not listening,” Arnold said. “He’s not only a climate denier . but he’s also a fact denier. He’s untrainable; you can’t educate him.”

Andrea Berman of Milford is one of the organizers of the trip to Washington. NOW-CT chartered two of more than 70 buses heading from Connecticut to the capital.

“It was the morning after the election and I woke up feeling devastated about the results,” she said. She also felt “this thing in my head (saying), ‘It’s time to march on Washington.’ I think it makes a strong statement that there are a lot of people in this country who don’t think things are right or normal.”

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Information from: New Haven Register, https://www.nhregister.com

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