Demonstrators marched on the Capitol Jan. 20 to stand up for gender equality in the second annual Women’s March.
Thousands of eager participants filled Southside Park and the surrounding area between 9 and 11 a.m., despite the chilly weather. Sacramento police cleared several blocks along 5th Street and the west end of the Capitol to make way for marchers.
The event had nearly double the turnout compared to last year’s march, which had around 20,000 people. The event organizers estimated the march drew close to 36,000 participants.
People of all ages attended to creatively show their support, donning pink knit hats and carrying handmade signs. Vendors passed through the masses selling buttons and shirts that supported a range of views surrounding the march.
“I think it’s important to be here to show support,” said City College Nursing Professor Mike Iredale, “(support for) my colleagues, friends, and all women.”
Iredale, 61, wore a shirt designed by the Los Rios Federation of Teachers that said, “The patriarchy isn’t going to fight itself” printed in bold letters over a pink torch. Iredale attended the march with other LRFT members and brought several cameras to help cover the event.
“I have sisters and mothers and I’m out here to support them because they don’t deserve to be treated the way they have been by our politics and our president—it’s absurd,” said Sam Gibbons, future Performing Arts major at City College. “I don’t condone any of that action out of anyone, let alone someone who’s supposed to be in power.”
The focus of this year’s march was multifaceted. Organizers of Sacramento’s march emphasized their four key issues as women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights/civic justice, and youth engagement, according to WomensMarchSac.com. Issues of concern amongst marchers included sexual assault, immigration, environmental conservation, LGBTQ rights and President Donald Trump.
“This movement needs to be more than once a year,” said Jackie Lira, standing in the shade with her husband and dog. “Being here and showing support helps survivors speak out.”
Lira explained that she works with survivors of abuse and said events like the Women’s March encourage survivors to have a voice. Her dog wore a small sign reading, “Don’t pet without getting my consent.”
Immigration laws were also a big concern to many at the march. President Trump’s termination of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in September last year, which gave temporary protection to minors brought into the US illegally, sparked an uproar. Hundreds of signs protesting Trump’s actions against immigrants dotted the march.
“America has always been a country of immigrants,” said Jeff Peck, a 71-year-old army veteran. “If the politicians can’t divide us, they can’t control us.”
Peck was dressed in an Army Service Uniform and held a sign that read, “Amnesty and citizenship for all undocumented immigrants #DACA.” Peck said he wore his uniform in support of the people of the United States and that he did not support Trump.
The march began making its way from Southside Park to the Capitol at 11:30 a.m. The roar of the crowd filled the brisk Sacramento air as thousands of people proudly marched down 5th street. Marches gathered on the west side of the Capitol around noon for a rally.
The stage was set with massive screens on each side to broadcast a lineup of speakers. This year’s keynote speakers were the founders of We Said Enough, the campaign that draws attention to sexual harassment at the Capitol. Adama Iwu, Samantha Corbin, and Alicia Lewis were also named Time’s Person of the Year as The Silence Breakers for their fight against sexual harassment in the government.
Streaks of sunlight illuminated protest signs teetering high above the crowd. People smiled and offered hi-fives as they passed by each other.
“I was able to support all the powerful women in my life (today),” said Jake Deome, 29, after the event. “Being able to show up and demand change is very important to me.”
Deome works as a coffee roaster at Temple Coffee Roasters. “This year I came out to march for my friend who missed last year’s march. I was really touched by the energy and positivity of the crowd. It was infectious.”
Rally speakers, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg, delivered speeches in succession until 2 p.m.
“It is not enough for men to simply recognize the need for women’s voices to be heard,” said Mayor Steinberg. “When women stand up to say ‘me too’, our response must be ‘we too.’ We too believe you, we too will stand up and support you.”