Hundreds expected for women’s rights rally in Richmond today

Posted on April 28, 2012

Washington Post, April 28, 2012 by Anita Kumar

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected in downtown Richmond Saturday afternoon to promote women’s rights.

The rally, organized by Unite Women Virginia, is one of a series of events taking place Saturday across the nation protesting what activists have dubbed the “war on women.”

Virginia has been in the national spotlight this year for legislation that critics say is designed to restrict abortions.

Though several bills died — including those that sought to define a fertilized egg as a person and ban abortions after 20 weeks — a measure requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion was signed into law by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).

Several legislators, including Dels. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax), Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) and Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) as well as activists from the National Organization of Women and NARAL-Pro-Choice Virginia are expected to speak.

The rally will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Nina F. Abady Festival Park near the Richmond Coliseum, a few blocks from Capitol Square.

Earlier this year, Democrats blasted what they called excessive police force at protests by officers wearing riot gear and carrying semiautomatic weapons. Republicans, in turn, said they were appalled by the criticisms of police officers.

At one rally in March, officers arrested 30 demonstrators after they refused to leave the steps of the state Capitol — where demonstrations are prohibited. They were charged with misdemeanors.

The ACLU of Virginia and the Virginia State Conference NAACP criticized the actions. No arrests were made at other rallies where demonstrators gathered in places where protests also are prohibited — outside the General Assembly Building and outside governor’s mansion.