1 year after Trump’s inauguration, thousands gather in Oakland, San Francisco for Women’s March 2018

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Zahira Chaudhry/Staff

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The Downtown Berkeley BART station looked different Saturday morning — Berkeley residents donned pink hats and held signs as they headed off to Oakland and San Francisco for Women’s March 2018.

A few miles south of Berkeley, music rang through Oakland as an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people marched in support of women’s rights and against the Trump administration. Trumpets and tambourines at the Lake Merritt BART station, dancers in front of the Alameda County Superior Court and drummers on 14th Street created an energy that drove the crowds onward.

The Oakland Women’s March attendees began to gather at Lake Merritt at 10 a.m. for a rally that featured female speakers, singers and dancers. Audience members joined in song as Emma’s Revolution, a folk group from Oakland, belted out the lyrics “I am a woman and I have these rights,” and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California Surina Khan spoke in support of access to abortion for students at public universities across California.

“We are saying no to sexual assault and sexual harassment. We are saying no to being paid less for the same work,” Khan said at the rally. “We will organize, we will run for office and we will advocate for policies that advance justice.”

Across the Bay, thousands had already gathered under a clear blue sky by the time the organizers began the official event at noon. With much applause, they welcomed each of the speakers onto the stage. Women representing a wide array of groups, ranging from the indigenous to the homeless communities, shared their stories and visions with the crowd. The audience in San Francisco responded with roars of shared outrage and support.

San Francisco march co-organizer Sophia Andary characterized the rally and march as a “call for action.” She urged the participants to organize, vote and run for office, particularly highlighting the need for the election of more women of color.

After two hours of speeches, the San Francisco march toward the Embarcadero began. Amid Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” people of all ages chanted, cheered and laughed on their trek. Their signs, many of them self-made, represented a broad umbrella of voices, from young girls eager to vote in the next election to elderly men expressing support for advancing women’s rights.

Many men made up the crowds in both cities, including UC Berkeley graduate Jon Tan. Considering himself a feminist, he traveled to San Francisco to support the women’s movement.

“I think it’s really important for men these days to spend a lot more time listening and paying attention,” Tan said. “For too long it has been a lot of men speaking and a lot of men voicing their opinions without really listening to the other side first.”

 

Women's March at SF Civic Center Plaza

Women’s March at SF Civic Center Plaza

With midterm elections around the corner, the organizers of this year’s march in Oakland were focused on voter registration and voter education, Oakland Women’s March co-chair Alison Mata said. Attendees in both cities also illustrated the leading role of the 2018 elections in today’s march, some handing out voter registration forms and others carrying signs reading “march to the polls” and “taking power to the polls.”

The Oakland march ended on a note of social action with the “Call to Action Alley” at Frank Ogawa Plaza — an event featuring women-owned businesses and other advocacy groups. Brittany Murlas, founder of The Little Feminist Book Club, said the energy at last year’s Women’s March inspired her to create a company focused on books that feature women and people of color.

“I think last year was an outcry and now we’re figuring out how to sustain change and make change in the longer term, which is harder,” Murlas said.

Women's March at SF Civic Center Plaza

Women’s March at SF Civic Center Plaza

Maddie Dolan, a UC Berkeley sophomore who participated in the San Francisco march this year, said she felt even more anger at this year’s march than at last year’s Oakland event, given Trump’s actions since his election. Nevertheless, she felt that the protest was an “inspiring” one.

UC Berkeley junior Shira Klasky-Gamer, who attended the Oakland Women’s March both this year and last, said she was disappointed by the decreased sense of urgency since Trump’s inauguration. She added that although the overarching message of the Women’s March has remained constant, public perception of the march may have changed this past year.

“People maybe got used to things and kind of were like, ‘this is just the status of our country now,’” Klasky-Gamer said. “But for me it’s even more of a reason to come up and show up.”

Contact Danielle Kaye and Sophia Brown-Heidenreich at [email protected].

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  • I love Trump!!!

    I would like to thank all of you protesters for reminding me why I voted for Donald J. Trump!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!

    • Rollie

      If you need a reminder of why you voted for a presidential candidate, then perhaps your original reasoning was not so well founded.

      • lspanker

        I certainly did not vote for Trump, but I will also be the first to tell you that these protesters are only making themselves look silly.

        • BerCaley

          It’s Monday and I need a good laugh.
          Are you Tea Party? Libertarian? Ron Paul?
          Did you read Ayn Rand in high school and think it was good?

          • lspanker

            Once again, the troll tries to engage in a flame war instead of actually discussing issues. Come on now, do you think “protesting” an election is going to win anyone over to your side? I seem to recall one former occupant of the White House proclaiming “Elections have consequences”. Maybe your side should have run a better candidate and campaign?

          • BerCaley

            No flames, just questions. Apparently difficult questions although they weren’t meant to be.

          • lspanker

            You must be quite the barrelful of laughs with the other junior high school students…

          • BerCaley

            It’s actually “barrel full”. (Nah, I checked and it’s barrelful as well.)
            But what’s up with right wing nuts and the ellipsis?
            Is that like Pepe the Frog?

          • lspanker

            Once again, do you think that a mass-tantrum-turned-demonstration is going to win other people over to your side? You lefties lost because too many people in this country are convinced that you’re nothing but unhinged loonies, yet you’re doing nothing to disabuse them of that notion.

          • BerCaley

            Booby! Dunno if y’all noticed but Cheeto be way unpopular. Y’all lost that Senate race down in Alabama, down in deep dumbfu**istan. ‘Conservative’ evangelicals had to vote for a child molester because… liberals. So yeah, I do think these ‘tantrums’ are winning people over.

            But y’all keep spanking it.

          • lspanker

            Dunno if y’all noticed but Cheeto be way unpopular.

            Berkeley does not constitute the majority of the country, nor are ideas and sentiments expressed in Berkeley taken seriously in most places elsewhere. But thanks for once again avoiding my question: do you think that a mass-tantrum-turned-demonstration by people who in many cases are clearly mentally disturbed is going to win the majority of Americans over to your side?

          • BerCaley

            The Women’s March had bigly numbers across the country.

            https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/womens-march-crowd-size-numbers

            So yeah, I do think these ‘tantrums’ are winning people over.

            Keep spankin’ it, Booby.

          • lspanker

            The Women’s March had bigly numbers across the country.

            Once again, were any minds changed?

            If you can’t figure that out, no wonder you people keep losing elections.

          • BerCaley

            Y’all lost that Alabama Senate election. Is that one those elections you’re talking about? Dunno if you follow these things but 30 House Republicans including 9 Chairmen are retiring rather than run with your boy Cheeto. I wonder why.

            No, I don’t think anyone is going to change your mind. You’re a right wing partisan. And I don’t think your boy Yiannopoulos is changing anyone’s mind. He’s just there for Fox and Breitbart. But a lot of people went to the Womens Marches.

        • zbudapest

          What the F?? You are silly! And we don’t care what you think!

          • lspanker

            You don’t care yet you’re compelled to respond. Hmm…