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Huntington’s science march joins global movement

Staff, wire reports

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — From the Washington Monument to Germany’s Brandenburg Gate to Huntington, scientists, students and research advocates rallied on a soggy Earth Day, conveying a global message about scientific freedom without political interference, the need for adequate spending for future breakthroughs and just the general value of scientific pursuits.

Hundreds of participants march down 11th Street during the March for Science Saturday, April 22, 2017. The march began at Heritage Station and ended at City Hall in Huntington.
(Photo by Larry Butcher)

Around 300 supporters filled Heritage Station on Saturday as Huntington joined the more than 600 cities with participating marches. Rather than travel to Washington, D.C., or elsewhere, said local organizer Jonathan Day-Brown, Marshall University assistant professor of psychology, arranging a public display in the community helps embolden like-minded neighbors to speak up for their beliefs.

“It really makes a nice statement that we really do have a strong scientific community here and we do have people here who are interested in this,” Day-Brown said.

Although science in its purest form is apolitical, most local marchers openly expressed disdain for policies enacted by President Donald Trump. Day-Brown stated that while most scientists do tend to affiliate with one party over another, personal beliefs do not cloud their approach to the problems at hand.

“What we’re fighting against here is the politicization of science, and I think that’s what the current administration is doing,” Day-Brown said. “It’s not that we necessarily disagree with certain policy initiatives, but we disagree that they’re not based on science.”

The convictions against what they believe is the Trump administration’s aversion to science-based decision-making were echoed at marches across the country.

“Scientists find it appalling that evidence has been crowded out by ideological assertions,” said Rush Holt, a former physicist and Democratic congressman who runs the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “It is not just about Donald Trump, but there is also no question that marchers are saying ‘when the shoe fits.'”

Despite saying the march was not partisan, Holt acknowledged it was only dreamed up at the Women’s March on Washington, a day after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Denis Hayes, who co-organized the first Earth Day 47 years ago, said the crowd he saw from the speaker’s platform down the street from the White House was energized and “magical” in a rare way, similar to what he saw in the first Earth Day.

“For this kind of weather, this is an amazing crowd. You’re not out there today unless you really care. This is not a walk in the park event,” Hayes said of the event in the park.

Scientists said they were anxious about political and public rejection of established science such as climate change and the safety of vaccine immunizations.

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