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Is it safe to bring kids to Seattle's womxn's march?

People at a women's march on Seattle's Capitol Hill on Dec. 3.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery
Seattle held a women's march on Capitol Hill on Dec. 3, several weeks after the election. Many children attended with their mothers.

Seattle’s mommy networks lit up this week with a question: Is it safe to bring our babies to the Womxn’s March on Saturday?

Several worried they would be sitting ducks in case of a rogue gunman.

I put this question to Det. Patrick Michaud of the Seattle Police Department. In a word, he said, yes, totally safe. Seattle Police make it their mission to protect free speech, he said.

“Activism is something we here in Seattle hold dear, and protesting safely,” Michaud said. “That is something we as police officers hold very dear.”

The women’s march has been very organized – it has a political platform and exit and entry points – and the organizers have worked closely with police.

“When you get a bunch of moms together," Michaud said, stuff gets done. 

Roughly 50,000 people have said they will attend – Seattle’s could be the third-most attended women’s march in the country.

Michaud understands why parents, particularly those new to demonstrations, might feel nervous: “You’re responsible for a tiny human being; your primary responsibility in life is that person.”

For older kids, he said, “The best advice we give kids, anytime they’re downtown, is that if it feels wrong, it’s probably wrong.”

Police will be everywhere at the march, he continued: if your gut tells you something is off, approach a police officer.

On that note, if you’re feeling dehydrated, or your child needs water and you don’t have it, ask an officer. They’ll get you water, Michaud said. (Bring your own food; they’ll help, but they’re not a food service operation.)

So what if, worst case scenario, there is an active shooter?

Michaud said to find a police officer – and to trust your gut. If your gut says to get out of there, do that.

He has an 11-year-old son; he said if he were in that situation, his goal would be to get his family to safety.

Tips for marching with children:

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring food and water.
  • Put a strip of masking tape on your child’s coat with your phone number, in case you get separated.
  • Or write your name and number with a Sharpie on the inside of your child’s forearm.
  • The march will be silent until marchers pass the last speaker – then it will get LOUD. If a lot of noise aggravates your child, that’s something to consider.
  • Don’t forget cash for the bus: $2.75 is one-way fare.