Campus club hosts counter-protest


Photo Contributed by Winona State University FORGE

Members of the community and FORGE stand at the intersection of Huff and Broadway to counter protest Winona Life Chain, a local anti-abortion organization on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Erin Jones, Copy Editor

Winona State University’s Fight for Our Rights and Gender Equality (FORGE) club hosted a counter-protest to Winona Life Chain’s anti-abortion protest Sunday, Oct. 7.

Members of the FORGE club, students and faculty of Winona State and people of the Winona community rallied at 1:30 p.m. and made their way to the corners of Huff and Broadway streets, where they stood for an hour in silent protest.

Once FORGE arrived, their members handed out pro-choice signs for the counter-protesters to hold up for passersby.

Jennifer Manglos, FORGE’s president, emphasized the turnout of counter-protesters.

“I thought we had a really good turnout,” Manglos said. “Last year [Life Chain] had people way up and down the streets, so I felt a lot better about not having that many [Life Chainers].”

Manglos also talked about the event’s success overall.

“I think it went great,” Manglos said. “I’m really exhausted, but I feel like this was the perfect response [to the anti-abortion protest].”

Hannah Westberg, FORGE’s social media coordinator, agreed. Westberg said both FORGE and Life Chain accomplished the goal of their protests.

“I’d say it was a successful protest,” Westberg said. “We were standing up for what we believe in, just like they were standing up for what they believe in and we had a civil time.”

Manglos and Westberg also agreed that the timing of these recent protests could not have been better.

“I think the timing of [the protests] was kind of perfect because of Brett Kavanaugh getting confirmed on Saturday,” Westberg said. “It’s just a crucial time in our political climate to make sure we’re speaking out about women’s rights, because they’re in danger, especially with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.”

Manglos also said that sexual assault is at a high-point in Winona right now, since the numbers of  reports increase during homecoming.

“We’ve just gotten out of the red- zone, homecoming ended, which is the peak of when sexual assaults occur,” Manglos said.

Manglos and Westberg both added that despite their uneasiness with Kavanagh’s confirmation, they will not hold back from fighting for women’s rights.

“I’m on edge about Kavanaugh being on the Supreme Court,” Manglos said. “It’s really uncomfortable to sit and wait and see what’s going to happen because now it’s out of our hands. That’s why it’s very, very, very important to go out and vote on Nov. 6.”

Manglos and Westberg said that though most people do not believe their vote matters, it does, and it is important for people to fulfill their civil duties.

“[Voting’s] what we can do, even though [Kavanaugh’s] in the Supreme Court and we’re like ‘What are we going to do now?’ We just have to vote and call our Senators, keep organizing and take care of ourselves because it’s exhausting to have this stuff happen,” Manglos said.

Westberg added that, for women, it is more important than ever to vote in the upcoming election, as a way to stand up for women’s rights and equality.

“I feel like there’s a stigma that feminists are just really angry, hateful people who just hate men,” Westberg said. “But we just want equal rights to our bodies and to make our own decisions with what we do with our bodies.”