Other Side: Orlando Women’s March Unified Progressive Factions

Photo credit: facebook.com/cuzzintruck

The coalition of progressive activists seemed rowdy and ready to fight. But it is still unknown if that coalition will be able to turn anger into votes.

By Sean David Hartman

Feminists. Environmentalists. Anti-Trump progressives. A coalition of left-wing activists and politicians convened at Lake Eola on Monday for the first anniversary of the Women’s March.

The park was filled with a multicolored crowd both in racial diversity and aesthetic expression, listening to Democratic candidates or visiting booths from different campaigns and organizations.

Several Democratic candidates either spoke or had campaign representation at the March: Gubernatorial candidate Chris King; State Legislative candidates, Anna Eskamani, Matthew Matin, and Representative Amy Mercado; Orange County Mayoral candidate Sheriff Jerry Demings; County Commission candidates Nicolette Springer, Soil & Water Conservation Board Chairman Eric Rollings, and Mayra Uribe; and School Board candidates Nancy Robbinson and Johanna Lopez.

But candidates were not the stars of the show. Advocacy groups came with a wide variety of issues, ranging from secularism to socialism to voting rights.   And the activists’ had diversified that further, with people advocating issues ranging from women’s rights to immigration reform to impeachment.

Candis, a retired schoolteacher, is concerned about rising poverty levels, and decided to get more politically active after retirement.

“I have for years seen poverty is just horrendous,” said Candis. “And we lose our young men, our young men drop out. Especially young men of color.”

Lily was holding sign stating “WILL TRADE A RACIST FOR A REFUGEE”, a commentary on recent statements allegedly made by the President, as well as the current Syrian Refugee Crisis. President Trump has implemented strict immigration restrictions from certain foreign states due to concerns of potential terrorist activity.

“I really wasn’t into politics until this last election, and what I’ve seen is utterly disgusting,” Lily told Central Florida Post.

She cited alleged racism from the President and other Americans, the recent Weinstein effect, and Republican support for the Roy Moore Senate campaign as certain sins she felt have become acceptable

“Everything has become okay, and to me that’s wrong.”

Mark Fredlake, a retired wildlife biologist, is concerned about climate change and feels that the effects of it span out to unrelated crises.

Fredlake is concerned that many of the recent immigration issues is caused by global warming.

“A lot of these people are being displaced because of climate,” said Fredlake.

Fredlake feels government investments in green energy and societal reforms are needed to fix this crisis. “They’re not doing anything to support renewable energy,” Fredlake said of Government.

Progressives were not the only ones out in full force. The Florida Proud Boys, a right-wing men’s organization, had a group of protesters attempting to present a more right-wing message opposing socialism. Their protest was blocked off by a group of progressive activists who told Central Florida Post that they were blocking out “the fascists.”

“I want everybody to have free speech of course,” said Arthur Jackman, one of the Proud Boys protesters. “But really I’m really here to point out the insane things that they’re protesting for.”

Jackman cited “Equality” as one of those insane things.

“We already have equality,” Jackman stated, referring to current status quo in law.

Jackman also cited concern of the Women’s March support for the hijab. Hijabs have a controversial history, with opponents seeing it as a symbol of oppression while supporters see it as an issue of religious liberty and personal choice.

Jackman takes the former opinion.

“They want to put people in hijabs,” said Jackman, “they have hijabs here, so that’s pro-women of course.”

Jackman’s words, however, fell mainly on deaf ears, as progressive activists blocked their protest with signs and chants. The Proud Boys had admitted to having civil conversations with some progressive advocates.

The coalition of progressive activists seemed rowdy and ready to fight. But it is still unknown if that coalition will be able to turn anger into votes.


Sean David Hartman is a freelance reporter for the Central Florida Post, with a wide portfolio ranging from entertainment to politics. He is a centrist political operative and blogger and a student at UCF. Hartman is autistic and bipolar, and supports the neurodiversity movement.