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Politics & Government

Wisconsin Women Head to Washington to Voice Concerns About Trump Administration

Niki Johnson
Some marchers in Washington will be carrying signs designed by Milwaukee area artist Niki Johnson and Memphis-based artist Christian Westphal

Tens of thousands of people will cheer on Donald Trump as he takes the oath of office Friday in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reports that the district's director of homeland security says officials expect 800,000 to 900,000 to attend.

The capital could be just as packed the next day as dozens of Trump protesters hold a huge march and rally. They'll make their views known through chants and signs, including one Milwaukee-area artist Niki Johnson designed with Memphis-based artist Christian Westphal. It's a bold silk screen print, largely in greens and grays. It depicts a woman's body, roughly from her navel to her knees.

LISTEN: Artist Niki Johnson Honors Women's Reproductive Rights with 'Hills and Valleys'

"It's a nude. So it's a pair of women's hips, and in the center there is an image of the U.S. Capitol," Johnson says.

The poster is based on a large sculpture Johnson unveiled last fall at a Planned Parenthood event. She says the sign is meant to prompt people to think about reproductive rights. It's a topic she wants to call attention to, when she marches in Washington on Saturday.

Credit Niki Johnson
Johnson's sculputural piece, Hills & Valleys, was the inspiration for the poster

"Some ask why is the government involved in our personal decisions, and I think that is a valid question," Johnson says.

Barbara Velez says people marching will call attention to multiple issues.

"The organizers are using the statement that 'women's rights are human rights.' It is about anything relating to the rights of people, whether that's immigration reform, whether that is reproductive rights, whether it's protecting our environment, providing public education," she says.

Velez will head to the capital by bus early Friday, along with about 45 other women, men and kids. She says she planned the trip with Megan Holbrook, who says there was no doubt they'd go.

"I walked into an elevator with Barbara. We looked at each other and we said 'Are you going?' We both knew exactly what it meant, that we were going to the march on Washington," Holbrook says.

Holbrook had already formed -- the day after the election -- a group she named The Next Four Years - Milwaukee. She says it aims to bring like-minded people together to fight for women's rights and LGBT rights, and to combat bigotry and racism.

Emily Wright says marginalized groups will need support in coming years. Wright is a UW-Milwaukee grad student and the daughter of a Mexican immigrant. She expects Saturday's march to provide a "boost of energy" to those concerned about a Trump administration.

"I want it to be kind of a force of momentum for social change, and a way that we can all stand together in solidarity and just say that we do not stand for injustice and we do not stand for inequality," Wright says.

One well-known Milwaukee mom, Maria Hamilton, plans to call for an end to fatal shootings by police. Her son Dontre was killed by an officer nearly three years ago. Hamilton says she'll blend her voice with the others.

"Whether it's women's rights, whether it's unfair wages, whether it's for health care, whether it's for education," Hamilton says.

Wisconsin residents not able to make the trip will express their views closer to home on Saturday. Sister marches are planned for Milwaukee, Madison and several other cities.

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