Thousands gather in nation’s capital in the name of science

By Cam Hasbrouck and Lauren Anikis.

Thousands of protesters overwhelmed the rainy streets of Washington, D.C., last Saturday, Earth Day, to advocate for the necessity of evidence-based science in legislative policy.

Among a sea of umbrellas and signs, people young and old gathered at the Washington Monument and marched toward the Capitol, echoing pro-science chants that could be heard blocks away.

The march, which had been planned for months, aimed to sway President Donald Trump’s administration to implement science-based policy and discourage lawmakers from cutting funding to pro-science and pro-environmental groups like the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dan Abrams, the Global Director of Earth Day, who also served as one of the march’s organizers, explained why his organization paired so well with the March for Science movement.

“We thought that the two ideas of marching for science and the Earth Day values married very well together,” he said. “The first Earth Day in 1970 was this exact type of thing, and we brought it back to the original concept of focusing around science and education.”

The crowd consisted of science supporters from all across the nation and included many University of Maryland students.

From left to right, Andrew Deng, Sadra Sepehri and Eddie Zhang, are University of Maryland students who belong a program called Integrated Life Sciences. They are marching to have their voices heard as scientists. Photo by Lauren Anikis 4/22/17

Sadra Sepehri, a student in the Integrated Life Sciences Program at the university, explained why he braved the elements in the name of science.

“I’ve always been inspired by science and I consider myself a scientist, so I have to fight for it,” he said. “We just want to make our voices heard because we’re the scientists … Instead of listening to us, they’re listening to lobbyists, so we just want to make sure our voices are heard.”

The march was organized as a non-partisan protest. However, many of the protestors were vocal about their concern for the future of science under the Trump administration.

“I think it’s really important that we all come out here and advocate for science-based policy because with our current presidency we seem to be straying further and further away from that,” said Eddie Zhang, also a University of Maryland student in the Integrated Life Sciences Program.

The organizers of the march hope that the protest will encourage everyday citizens to advocate for science. In the coming week, they’ll be promoting a “Week of Action,” designed to continue the momentum created by the march.

As the march disbanded in the heart of Washington, a decisive message poured out through the loudspeakers: The march may be finished, but the movement is only beginning.

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