Hundreds of women opposed to what they call the “extremist” turn of Kansas government are expected to take to the streets Friday evening for a public rally opposing state policies on taxes, education, voting rights and other issues.
The 5:30 p.m. rally is open to the public and will be held at A. Price Woodard Park, south of Douglas Avenue between the Arkansas River and the Century II Convention Center.
The rally will be the public face of the Taking Back Kansas convention, a two-day event of activism training and planning being held at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview.
The core of the rally will be about 500 attendees from the conference who will march en masse across Douglas to the park, according to a statement from Lynn Stephan, co-chairwoman of Women for Kansas.
The group has particularly turned its sights on defeating Gov. Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the November election.
"This governor's policies are a direct attack on those least able to defend themselves," Stephan said. “He and his supporters have turned the false promise of cutting taxes into a sacred cow. Yet the reality is that for hundreds of thousands of Kansans, their taxes have gone up, their access to medical care has gone down, and their ability to educate their children - the best path to individual advancement and freedom – has been degraded.”
The group also opposes the Kobach-written law requiring new voters to provide citizenship documents – almost always a birth certificate or passport – to register to vote in Kansas elections. At present, about 19,500 prospective voters have filled out registration forms but their voting privileges are suspended until they provide the papers.
"Kris Kobach, since his days as a bureaucrat in the George W. Bush administration, then later as the chair of the state Republican party, has been actively engaged in voter suppression,” Stephan said. “The policies of state government affect every citizen, and Women For Kansas believes that Kansas would be better served by having more participants, instead of trying to keep eligible voters away from the polls.”
Friday's rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a musical performance by the Cherokee Maidens with Robin Macy and the band Sycamore Swing.
The speeches are set to begin at 5:45 p.m. and will include former Wichita State University political science instructor Vickie Stangl, Topeka educator Stephanie Harsin, health care access advocate Lindsey Benage and high school student Anna Jenney.
Food trucks will be on site and participants are urged to bring blankets and folding chairs for seating.