Berkeley community joins millions around world participating in women’s marches

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Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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Campus students and local community members joined millions of activists across the country and around the globe Saturday by taking part in women’s marches in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Berkeley protesters cited Trump’s stances on reproductive rights, minority rights and immigration policy as some of the main reasons for marching, as well as controversial statements Trump made in 2005 about grabbing women “by the pussy.” The original women’s march was organized to take place in Washington, D.C. where at least 500,000 attended, but “sister marches” took place in hundreds of U.S. cities as well as in more than 70 other countries, according to the Women’s March on Washington website.

A march on UC Berkeley’s campus garnered around 200 community members who gathered on Memorial Glade at noon, marching through Sather Gate and around campus, carrying signs that read “Love Trumps Hate” and “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” They chanted “Celebrate diversity” and “My body, my choice” as they made their way down Bancroft Way and onto Fulton Street.

Students who attended the march said by participating, they hoped to send a message about the strength of the will of the people.

“(I’m here to show) the power of the people is stronger than the president,” said campus freshman Ali Maloney.

Many campus and city community members chose to attend larger protests in Oakland and San Francisco.

After marching from 9th and Madison streets starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, about 85,000 people gathered at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and the surrounding streets in Oakland where they remained throughout the afternoon. Streets were temporarily closed off along the path of the march and in some areas surrounding the plaza, according to Oakland Police Department officer Marco Marquez.

There were no arrests or instances of violence during the demonstration, Marquez said in an email. OPD patrol desk officer John O’Reilly said he was “amazed” at how peaceful the protest was considering its size.

For married couple Sally Chang and Siobhan Cassidy of Berkeley, who attended the Oakland march, the protest was a way to create a space for positivity after a campaign season they felt was fueled by hate and negativity. Cassidy held a sign that read “Make empathy great again, communicate” and Chang held one that read “Ok ladies now let’s get in formation.”

womensmarch_mikaela_raphael2“I think a lot of people felt that yesterday was a day of mourning,” Cassidy said at the march. “(Here), people are talking and connecting. … It feels like a celebration, strangely.”

Some attendees blasted music, danced, sang, participated in drum circles and watched speakers call for action on issues related to transgender rights, immigration and homelessness in front of Oakland City Hall.

Althea Grannum-Cummings, a campus gender and women’s studies adviser, also attended the march and said she hoped the demonstration would help women come together to fight against the actions of the new administration.

“I think an event like this gives cause to what we can do in the future … and can prepare us for the 2018 elections,” Grannum-Cummings said. “We can really change the country through changing the congress.”

Tracey Iglehart, a teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary, said she has seen the marches empower her students, who stayed up late the previous night making posters for the marches.

“It sends a really clear message that this country doesn’t stand for what Donald Trump standswomensmarch_mikaela_raphael1 for,” Iglehart said. “There’s power in what we’re doing.”

Later in the afternoon, many Bay Area participants headed to the women’s march in San Francisco, which had an estimated crowd of about 100,000, according to CBS San Francisco. The march remained peaceful throughout the night, resulting in no arrests, and continued to grow into the evening despite the rain.

UC Berkeley School of Law students Laila Hosseini, Sara Hundt and Isabelle Hutchings, who were heading to the San Francisco march via BART, all agreed that they found it powerful to see so many cities participating in the march and showing support for women’s rights.

“Any participation is a good starting point,” Hosseini said.

Contact the Daily Californian News Staff at [email protected].