By now, nearly 200,000 people are expected to attend the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21 after Trump's inauguration. It's not uncommon for people participating in demonstrations to bring signs stating their stance on them — but there are specific sign rules for the Women's March that everyone who is considering marching should know about before they head out for the rally point this weekend. The march is a peaceful demonstration, and the many rules and guidelines in place for the event are aimed at keeping the proceedings safe. This includes guidelines for signs, so they're worth getting acquainted with in advance.
The Women's March, which begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, is believed to be the largest inauguration-related protest in the history of the United States. The mission of the march, according to its platform, is to unite people of all identities and backgrounds — age, culture, race, political affiliation, everything — who want to bring social justice and human rights issues to the attention of the government, particularly the incoming president's administration. And although the movement is led by women, people of all genders are encouraged to participate and show their support for equality for every American, regardless of background.
Marchers are planning to meet near the U.S. Capitol, where president-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office as the country's new Commander-in-Chief the day before. In order to keep the march organized and efficient, all marchers should register for the event beforehand. Keep in mind that there are smaller demonstrations with a similar message taking place all around the nation, so your local Women's March may have different regulations or protocols than the D.C. branch.
Here is what you need to know before making a sign and bringing it to The Women's March in Washington, D.C.:
1Nothing That Can Be Used As A Weapon Will Be Allowed
A major priority of The Women's March is safety of all marchers during the event. Thus, no object that can even remotely be used or misconstrued as a weapon will be allowed. That means any sticks or other sharp objects will be probably be confiscated, so don't mount your sign on a stick.
Canes, walking sticks, and walkers for people with disabilities who use the assistive technology regularly are the only exception.
2Flags, Banners, And Posters Are All OK
The Women's March is a peaceful protest, and signs of some sort are expected. Thus, flags, banners, and posters are allowed as long as they aren't attached to poles or sticks (see above).
3Any Sign Posts Should Be Made Of Cardboard
Holding a banner with both of your hands at all times is a hassle and can get tiring real quick. Luckily, people can use cardboard posts — a safe alternative to wooden ones, which (again) won't be allowed — to hold up their signs.
4Only Small Bags Are Allowed
If you're hoping to stash your signs in a backpack or other tote, keep in mind that your bags have to fit particular specifications: Smaller bags and purses have to be within 8"x6"x4" in order to be permitted, and backpacks must be clear (not colored transparent) and no bigger than 17"x12"x6".
5Check With Your Bus To Determine The Level Of Security For Belongings
The Women's March is probably going to last all day, and at some point you may get tired of holding up your signs and carrying other belongings. For marchers who are arriving at the U.S. Capitol by bus, the event website highly suggests that marchers double check with the bus company to determine whether it's safe to leave belongings in the vehicle.
6Signs Should Not Encourage Civil Disobedience
One of the most important rules and goals of the Women's March is to keep the demonstration peaceful and safe at all times. Thus, all marchers must follow the law and any police orders. Organizers of the Women's March said they hope to avoid arrest and "negative interactions with the police." Thus, any signs or other objects you bring as a participant specifically should not incite or encourage acts of civil disobedience.
Ultimately, the best way to be a productive marcher is to plan early and ensure that you follow all rules of the Women's March. Once you've ticked off these items on your to-do list, you can focus on more important things — like marching for equality and standing up for our brothers and sisters across the nation.