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Turnout strong for Fargo women’s march as organizers push for civic involvement; shout down pro-white provacateur

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Pro-white activist Pete Teft is surrounded by a crowd chanting “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. White supremacy has go to go.” following a women’s march Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor6 / 10
An overflow crowd fills a meeting room Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at the Civic Center, Fargo, prior to the FM Women’s March. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor7 / 10
Retired marine Dave Horvath waves a flag at the end of a women’s march Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor8 / 10
The crowd lingers in front of the Civic Center following a women’s march Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor9 / 10
Signs show a variety of concerns during the women’s march Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor10 / 10

FARGO -- An organizer of a women’s march that drew upwards of 700 people here Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, said she personally took to heart the theme of this year’s demonstration, which urged women and others to take “a step beyond” the one-day event.

Nicole Mattson, an organizer with Indivisible FM, which planned Saturday’s march, told the crowd gathered for a rally prior to the march that when she took part in last year’s event she had no clue she would become a major planner of the 2018 version.

“This is way outside my comfort zone,” Mattson said before encouraging others to do something similar.

“Go one step beyond the march this year and be a little more active than you have before,” she said.

The rally took place in the lower level of the Fargo Civic Center, where space limited the audience to about 600 or 700. However, hundreds more waited outside the Civic to join in the march that followed the rally.

Waving signs like, “Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights,” and chanting slogans like, “refugees are welcome here,” the participants kept the tone of the event upbeat, even when a Fargo resident known for his pro-white rhetoric made an appearance.

Pete Tefft was quickly surrounded by a group of people who began chanting, “White supremacy has to go!” and “Go home, Pete!”

Tefft exchanged words with a number of people and at one point he hugged one of the marchers before the chanting died down and Tefft faded into the crowd.

During the rally, which focused on sparking civic involvement, Moorhead City Council member Sara Watson Curry looked out over the crowd and declared, “I see candidates.”

Sharing her own story of how she decided to run for office, Watson Curry said she at first looked around for other people she could encourage to run before eventually concluding, “why not me?”

Then she added, “So why not you?”

Women made up the majority of marchers and rally goers, but men took part, too, including one man who carried a sign that read: “My wife is a nasty woman,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s put down of Hillary Clinton.

As hundreds of people made their way through downtown Fargo, one of the marchers, Julia Parr, helped lead the chanting.

Though her voice began to wear by the time the march neared its conclusion, Parr said it was a price she was willing to pay, stating she was doing it for her daughter and others in the community who are deserving of respect and dignity.

Her shouted encouragements included: “Let me hear it loud and clear, refugees are welcome here!” and “This is what democracy looks like!”

As she took a break from chanting, Parr shared her reasons for joining Saturday’s demonstration.

“I’m a woman and I have a daughter and we have issues that are not being met by the current administration, Parr said.

“I don’t mind using my voice if it means I have to lose my voice for the cause,” she added.

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