In towns and cites across the nation, people gathered this weekend to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had given women the constitutional right to an abortion.
Shelter Island was no different.
Organized by Susan Schrott and Roz Dimon, more than 50 people responded Saturday morning to a call to demonstrate in the Center. What started just before 11 a.m. as a small group in front of Justice Hall, grew steadily, with motorists passing slowly, many tooting their horns and offering signs of support for the demonstrators.
Demonstrators chanted, accompanied by a drum beat and other handheld instruments: “Our rights, our choice.” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these backward views have got to go.” “What do we want? Choice. When do we want it? Always.”
The group of men, women and children of all ages, marched from Justice Hall, past Police Department headquarters and across to the Library, before heading back to Justice Hall. Police Chief Jim Read was on hand and said as long as the demonstrators didn’t obstruct traffic, there would be no problem. Police stopped traffic briefly so the marchers could cross back to Justice Hall, where the demonstration continued.
“I have never done anything like this,” Ms. Schrott said about organizing the demonstration. She said she is not political, but marched in support of Roe v. Wade in 1973. On Saturday she carried a sign reading: “I march today in disbelief as the hands of time are turned back to a time when women had no voice, no choice, no freedom of privacy and control over their own bodies … I march for victims of rape and incest.”
Some in the crowd spoke of the Supreme Court revisiting other decisions, including contraception, gay rights and same sex marriage. “What’s next?” asked James Dawson. “I really fear they’re going to take away other personal liberties.”
Shelter Island School Valedictorian Myla Dougherty, who graduated on Friday, carried a sign saying: “Guns have more rights than me.” Her reference was to a decision the Supreme Court announced earlier in the week striking down New York State’s ban on a law in place for a century restricting the right to carry a concealed firearm without special permissions.
Class of 2022 Salutatorian Franny Regan carried a sign declaring: “Abortion is a health issue.”
Ms. Dimon said it’s important for those who value reproductive rights to reach out not just to those who share their views, but try to influence people of differing opinions, if change is going to occur.
“Spread love,” she said.
“I am so proud of us,” Ms. Schrott said, encouraging those who came out to continue the effort to organize against the Supreme Court decision.