Thousands unite, assert equal rights


A protester holds up a sign in the middle of a large crowd during the Women’s March on D.C. sister march from MAdison Park near Laker Merritt to Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland, Calif. Jan. 21.

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

OAKLAND — Over 60,000 supporters in pink hats and handmade signs took a stance for human rights, civil liberties and social justice on Jan. 21 for the Women’s March in here and throughout the Bay Area.

Marchers around the country came together and demanded action after President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 because of his support for anti-choice policies and his threats to end federally- funded reproductive rights for women.

In unity with signs raised high and loud chants marching through Jackson Street in Oakland toward Frank Ogawa Plaza, supporters of all ages were heard.

Among the chants were, “Not my president,” “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” and “My body, my choice!”

“I’m here to assert my humanity as a woman,” Michelina Matarrese, from San Francisco, said.

She said she has been an activist and has participated in other marches post Trump’s election.

”It is all over. It’s time to lay it all to rest,” she said. “There are more of us than him (Trump).”

After Trump was elected president, protests and marches around the nation created a way for people to express their frustration with his policies.

“It is important to organize around a common goal and have a system. We are a democracy,” Lashante Smith, of Richmond, said.

“As part of a marginalized group, I still feel like we are at the bottom,” Smith said.

Smith said it will be a while until women of color will advance in society in comparison to men or white women.

Stella Vargas, from Oakland, said, “I was skeptical to come because it was white feminists. But what changed my mind was thinking about all the people of color joining the cause. I felt it was compelling and wanted to show my support.”

Vargas said, “Women all around the world are being abused, raped and killed. This (march) is a privilege to be part of, and I do it for my family, my friends, my sisters and my cousins.”

Vargas said her family is from Guatemala, and as the first-generation born in America, she said she believes marching is the right thing to do in order to “validate” those voices that have been silenced.

Although the march called for women to rally against Trump, men joined to support the cause.

Ray Edison, of Oakland, said the Women’s March encourages people to fight for women’s rights and the rights of people of color.

“It (the march) gives me hope for change,” he said. “Trump is racist and is a misogynist. We are marching against his presidency.”

Trump’s rhetoric against women throughout his campaign earned him the name of “predator-in-chief,” according to the website Huffington Post, and that sentiment was seen in several signs carried by women marching.

Erik Worth, a resident of Berkeley, said he marched to show solidarity with those affected groups Trump has targeted throughout his campaign.

“I marched today to be with my people,” he said.

Worth said it is his first time supporting a movement for women and “hopes” his support is appreciated and not seen as “men trying to corrupt the movement.”

Executive Director of the Center for Domestic Peace Donna Garske said electing a “predator” into office is a “big problem.”

Garske said instead of talking about what to do moving forward with women’s rights, discussions of “rolling back” progress are happening now that Trump is the president of the United States.

“It’s appalling. A lot of women say the behavior this man (Trump) displays is what they put up with in terms of their batterer. When they were assaulted.”

Garske said on a daily basis she works with women who have experienced sexual harassment, assault and rape at the Center for Domestic Peace, located in San Rafael,  and seeing how many people were supporting the cause brought her joy.