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Santa Rosa vigil honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Attendees remembered the late justice as champion of women’s rights|

A few hundred people came together Saturday evening in downtown Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.

The event, which was billed as a vigil, often had more the feeling of a rally. Pop music blared from speakers as attendees and local politicians gave impassioned speeches in remembrance of the high court’s second female justice, a leading liberal voice who became a pop culture icon in her later years.

A few event goers could be seen donning judge’s robes, while others wore masks emblazoned with the word, “Vote,” in reference to November’s presidential election. On Saturday, President Donald Trump signaled he would move quickly to nominate a replacement justice before the end of his term.

Some held signs reading “Rest in Power” or “Notorious RBG,” a moniker given to Ginsburg by her supporters as a play on the stage name of late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.

Kristen Throop, 57, of Santa Rosa, hadn’t attended a march or demonstration since the pandemic hit, but she said it was important for her to pay tribute to Ginsburg’s legacy as a champion of women’s rights.

“She dedicated her whole life to that,” said Throop, who like most of the people at the vigil, wore a face mask. “When she started her practice, it was unusual for women to even be lawyers, and she won so many cases in front of the Supreme Court (before becoming a justice). She’s made a real difference in my life.”

Ginsburg died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87 after 27 years on the court.

The vigil was organized by Women’s March Santa Rosa, which for the past three years has led demonstrations for causes such as immigration reform, gun control and women’s rights.

The event coincided with similar demonstrations for Ginsburg held across the country on Friday and Saturday in cities including San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.

Delashay Benson, Santa Rosa Junior College student body president and a co-president of the school’s Black Student Union, was heartened to see the crowd gathered for Ginsburg. She also challenged those at the event to do more to support social justice causes than simply attending marches and demonstrations.

“Are you making the phone calls? Are you sending the letters? Are you donating?” Benson asked. “It seems like a lot of people are coming (to marches), but there’s not enough action.”

As the darkness fell over Old Courthouse Square, vigil-goers lit candles in memory of the late justice. Not long before the sun had set, Alina Kingwall Peterson, a 12-year-old student at Hillcrest Middle School in Sebastopol, gave one of the more memorable speeches of the evening.

“I love going to all of these rallies and marches because we’re fighting for something bigger than all of us,” she said. “We’re fighting for the future.”

This article includes information from the Associated Press. You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian

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