Thousands of demonstrators gathered Saturday in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Sebastopol to support women’s rights and to indulge in cathartic Trump bashing. The events commemorated last year’s record-breaking women’s marches in the United States and worldwide.
Santa Rosa-based Brew Coffee & Beer provided supplies for demonstrators to use to create signs before the event. Terra Katz of Rohnert Park was there passing out pink pussy hats to the dozens of marchers present. “My friends and I made over fifty of them last March,” said Katz. “They’re symbolic. Everyone that wears one has a statement on their head.”
Over two thousand protestors filled downtown Santa Rosa’s newly reconstructed Courthouse Square. Kristy Hellum, Georgia Ruth and the North Bay Women’s Song Brigade led the crowd in a rousing call and response. Giant bubbles from the children’s area floated overhead while Sonoma County Supervisors Shirlee Zane and Lynda Hopkins urged listeners to take back political control by voting more Democrats and women into office.
Concern for women’s health and health care, equal rights/equal pay, education, human rights, respect for all women, and environmental health were championed via clever, thoughtful, sometimes crude, often heartfelt signs. Notable examples included: “Middle Raged," “Tweet others as you wish to be Tweeted," “I only want ICE in my tea," and “I’m with Her” with an arrow pointing to an image of the earth.
Alicia from Healdsburg carried a sign that read, “Women’s rights are human rights!” She said she wasn’t usually political. “I don’t like what’s going on. I don’t think Trump is doing his duties for the people. DACA should continue, and the Dreamers should be allowed to obtain citizenship."
Some marchers were inspired by America’s history of successful protest movements.
“I think it’s a matter of numbers,” said Brooke Greene of Cloverdale. “We all have a responsibility to show how strongly we feel. My parents were very active during the Civil Rights movement and for me this is bringing it forward as Americans.”
Many expressed concern for the next generation.
“If we don’t take action, change isn’t going to happen,” said Drew Lichtenberger of Santa Rosa. “We need it desperately. If we don’t do something, who will? I just became a grandparent and I want him to live in a world that does not look like this.”
“I’m here because we’re trying to make America sane again,” said Drew’s husband Mark Lichtenberger with a laugh.
Representatives from the Sonoma County Democratic Party, Indivisible Sonoma County and the Sonoma County League of Women Voters were on hand registering voters in anticipation of a "big blue wave" of Democratic wins this November. All in all, the mood was angry and upset, but peaceful and cautiously optimistic.
As Leslie Graves, one of the Santa Rosa women’s march organizers said, “We must persist!”