FARGO — On the first day of President Joe Biden's term, protesters here marched through downtown Fargo-Moorhead to draw attention to issues surrounding the environment, civil rights and immigration.

Despite a brisk wind, about 30 to 40 people gathered at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Island Park for the Solidarity March organized by the Red River People Over Profits Initiative, a group calling for residents to stand together to demand justice on all levels.

Demonstrators listened first to organizer Vanessa Clark speak about why they were marching. She laid out their agenda, which includes opposing oil pipelines in Minnesota, supporting Native rights and demanding an end to evictions during the coronavirus pandemic (Biden is expected to extend a nationwide pause on evictions through March).

Hilary Ray, from Moorhead, wore clothing reminiscent of the 19th century and held a sign saying "1918 Sends Respect."

Vanessa Clark, an organizer with the Red River People Over Profits Initiative, speaks during a rally Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Island Park in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Vanessa Clark, an organizer with the Red River People Over Profits Initiative, speaks during a rally Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Island Park in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

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"I'm filled with gratitude and relief that we are all still alive," Ray said. "But we have so much more to do. I'd like to think we've learned something with 103 years, but so far it's the same trajectory."

When asked if she'll continue to participate in social justice events, even with a new administration that seems poised to alleviate many of her concerns, she said, "Can't stop. Won't stop."

The group left Island Park and meandered through downtown Fargo, walking along First Avenue North where the May 30 riots occurred, and stopped outside the Cass County Courthouse, Sen. John Hoeven's office and City Hall. Protesters were encouraged to contact their elected officials, attend City Commission meetings and push for judicial reform.

"Now is the time to organize, and this is why we're hitting the streets today, to make sure people are over profit," protester Clara Derby said.

Solidarity March protesters walk through downtown Fargo on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Solidarity March protesters walk through downtown Fargo on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

Hilary Ray, in black holding a sign that said "1918 Sends Respect," and Christy Goulet, holding the right side of a banner, in downtown Fargo Wednesday, Jan. 20, with other protesters as part of the Solidarity March. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Hilary Ray, in black holding a sign that said "1918 Sends Respect," and Christy Goulet, holding the right side of a banner, in downtown Fargo Wednesday, Jan. 20, with other protesters as part of the Solidarity March. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

At one point during the march, Quin Overland, a medic who was involved in many of last year's protests, said the need for universal health care has never been more important. "We should have had it (universal health care) at the beginning of the pandemic," Overland said.

Christy Goulet, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, held a banner with family members of a child named Meka Ducheneaux who was recently killed. Goulet marched for Native issues and said many current laws are outdated and racist.

"I should not have to come here with a banner of a baby who was killed in our community," Goulet said. "Our youth should not have one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation. Policies put in place long ago ... is a system that has never worked — only way things are going to change is through education."

Watch a replay of the march from reporter C.S. Hagen below.