Protesters send strong message during Sunday’s event
– By Gabriel Pietrorazio
Around the world International Women’s Day protests and public demonstrations have sprung up, and even in Geneva.
Organized by the Geneva Women’s Assembly, members of the community joined Hobart and William Smith Colleges students and faculty to focus on the fight for gender equality during their fourth-ever event held on International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8th.
Dressed in black and donning blindfolds, women and their few but present male allies occupied the sidewalks with a shrieking siren leading the way to the 5&20 overpass where protesters chanted in defiance against gender-based injustices, especially sexual assault and rape.
Some chants included, “My body, my choice” as well as “The rapist is you.”
Banners hung over the metal guardrail of the overpass while bilingual chants in Spanish and English echoed in the air.
With vehicles honking underneath them while passing by, protesters continued down South Main Street until turning onto Seneca Street where protesters then filled into the roadway until reaching the intersection corner of Seneca and Exchange.
Standing on the corner near One Franklin Square, activists organized by staying in the street without fear.
An impromptu public demonstration with an orchestrated dance routine ensued that covered both lanes, stopping motor vehicles in the process.
— Gabriel Pietrorazio (@GabePietrorazio) March 8, 2020
Many drivers turned around after not being able to pass while activists blocked both sides of Exchange Street and stared them down in a confrontational fashion.
Without a permit in-hand, protesters dispersed back onto the sidewalk heading down Exchange Street toward Seneca Lake once a Geneva Police Department vehicle was dispatched to the scene after the collective captured the corner for nearly five-minutes.
Protesters continued onward until reaching Bicentennial Park where activists voiced why they got involved in mobilizing on a bright and sunny day in the Finger Lakes.
“It’s a beautiful day to fight the patriarchy,” organizer Hannah Dickinson shouted.
Some women spoke-out calling their alleged abusers and providing emotional support on behalf of the collective after publicly sharing their traumatic experiences, inspiring others to speak-up and out.
“Un violador en tu camino,” the Chilean feminist anthem also known as “A Rapist in Your Path” was recreated by Genevans in the streets in recognition of International Women’s Day and the worldwide struggle for gender parity and justice.
Lyrics from the anthem include, “The rapist is you… It’s the cops… The judges… The state,” and resonate across the globe on this day of universal solidarity.
These shouted sentiments even hit home for the city of Geneva and the women’s assembly while a local police officer is awaiting trial after allegedly assaulting a woman while under his custody.
Ahead of the trial that is set to proceed in nearly one week, Dickinson addressed Geneva Police Department Officer Jack Montesanto, who has been suspended without pay after being charged with a misdemeanor for criminal obstruction of breathing when he allegedly choked a Geneva woman until she was unconscious on July 23rd in 2019.
Dickinson fully backed behind the victim who shall step to the podium to testify on Tuesday, March 17th once the jury has been selected one day prior.
Montesanto is expected to enter a guilty plea, which would result in the district attorney’s office recommendation to sentence him for three years of probation and no jail time.