Scientists, students, and families carried signs and chanted “Earth Day is every day.” Some, like Barbara Martin, even dressed for the occasion.
“I’ve got on my lab coat with my stethoscope and my sign says ‘Got Polio? Me neither. Thanks, science,’” said Martin, who was also sporting a green knit hat with an ohm symbol in the middle, the electrical sign for resistance.
The March For Science event was one of many planned around the world as a response to cuts proposed by the Trump administration. Martin says she’s protesting proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health. Under Trump’s budget plan, the agency would lose 18 percent of government funding, or about $6 billion.
“I think it’s tragic that they’re thinking of cutting NIH and so many other science programs,” Martin said. “I think it’s so important that we continue to fund medical science, innovations, vaccinations, and just really advance our society.”
Elsewhere in the crowd, dozens of students from Portland State University hold up a banner for the biology department. PSU professor Ken Stedman was among them.
“Science is all about facts, it’s not political,” he said.
But Stedman is concerned that in Trump’s America, the facts are getting lost in politics.
“It’s a question about, Do you believe the data? But I’m frightened that that’s not happening right now,” Stedman said. “Facts are not being used appropriately, or they’re being ignored.”
The march ended at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park with dozens of booths and educational activities, many of them family-friendly.
Keera Lindenberg, co-founder of an educational nonprofit, Science Project, used a game to explain how biodiversity supported coral reef ecosystems.
“They all need each other to survive,” she said before a captive audience of kids.
Lindenberg said she was eager to join the march and get people excited about science.
“Science is for everybody, it doesn’t just belong in labs,” she said.
Lindenberg hopes Saturday’s march sends a message to President Trump and his administration.
“I think it’s important that we have transparency, truth, and evidence-based policy in our administration and our country,” she said.