Between Issues


This story was published between issues of the newspaper. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes.

Originally published February 29, 2020 to the Virginia Defender Facebook page.

By Phil Wilayto

RICHMOND, VA, Feb. 29 — “Today is the day! Bring your hand drums, bring your songs, grab your red shawls, put on your jingle dress, bring a sign and bundle up. We will see you at 1500 E. Main St. at 1 pm as we march to bring awareness to our Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and show support for our Wet’suwet’en relatives!”

That was the post today on the Richmond Indigneous Society’s Facebook page announcing the recently formed organization’s first march and rally in Virginia’s capital city.

A strong, women-led contingent of indigenous people, followed by more than 100 supporters, stepped off from the parking lot across from the Main Street Station and took to the streets to demand an end to the epidemic of murders of indigenous women and to show solidarity with the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en people in British Columbia, Canada, who are carrying out a heroic struggle against an environment-destroying pipeline.

The main banner.

“Bring Them Home!” the marchers shouted. “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” “Whose Land? Our Land!”

The march circled the downtown area, stopping traffic with the help of volunteer bike marshalls and finishing back at the Main Street Station for a rally, where society members Sarah Arrigo and Vanessa Bolin addressed the crowd.

Vanessa Bolin addresses the crowd before the march.

Bolin explained that the group had been told they were not allowed to gather on the station’s steps. She denounced the order as another colonizer tactic, and the rally continued, without interruption.

She also made a point of explaining that they were standing in Shockoe Bottom, once a central site for slave auctions.

Later, the Richmond activist groups Extinction Rebellion and Food Not Bombs provided a meal for the crowd at the nearby Elecrtric Nomad dance studio.

Sarah Arrigo holds a banner before the march.

In an interview with the Defender before the march, Sarah Arrigo explained the issues of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and the Wet’suwet’en struggle. The interview can be read here.

For more information, see the Facebook page of the Richmond Indigenous Society.

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