Women's March draws thousands to Santa Rosa in stand against TrumpWomen's March draws thousands to Santa Rosa in stand against Trump
The streets of downtown Santa Rosa were overtaken Saturday by a vibrant political rebellion as a crowd of thousands marched in solidarity with women, immigrants and others in a remarkable show of defiance against President Donald Trump one day after his inauguration.
Carrying signs and chanting slogans, demonstrators in the largest city on the politically liberal North Coast voiced grave concerns about the future of the nation under a leader whose stated objectives represent an assault on values they hold dear.
To them, Trump’s presidency jeopardizes progress on a range of fronts, including the rights of women, immigrants, Muslims and same-sex couples, as well as efforts to combat climate change. Their message Saturday, shouted from jam-packed streets and scrawled on handmade signs, added up to a vow to meet President Trump head-on as he seeks to impose a strong rightward shift in government and roll back many of the hallmark achievements of the Obama era.
Former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, told the crowd in front of City Hall that Trump’s policies threaten to return America to the 1950s.
“We want our president to know we are not going back,” Woolsey said to applause. “We want to let him know we are not going to stay in our bubble in the North Bay, in Northern California, where we actually get it.”
She was one of several speakers at the Women’s March, which mirrored hundreds of demonstrations nationwide and across the globe, headlined by the massive rally in Washington, D.C.
Organizers said turnout in Santa Rosa, estimated at more than 5,000 people, was larger than expected. Attendees filled First Street and spilled onto Santa Rosa Avenue and D Street in the heart of the city.
“Look at this,” organizer Anne McGivern said. “People care. They wanted to be invited to show up and take action.”
The noon rally was followed by a one-hour march around downtown that concluded by 2:30 p.m. Streets in the area were reopened not long afterward, police said. No arrests or incidents were reported.
Lt. John Snetsinger said the crowd was “easily more than 5,000” and could have numbered several thousand more. Snetsinger, who has worked at the Police Department more than 20 years, said it was “one of the largest free-speech events we’ve ever had in Santa Rosa.”
At the rally, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, told a cheering crowd that the divisive rhetoric employed by Trump would not wholly redefine American identity.
“What Barack Obama said in his final days as our president is that being an American is not about where you’re from, or what you look like, what language you speak, how you worship, who you love. It’s not about any of those things. It’s about an ideal that we are all created equal, and that in this country, being an American means you can make of your life what you will,” Huffman said. “We’re going to define what it means to be an American. And we are going to get through these next four years together.”
Huffman concluded his comments by donning a pink hat with cat ears, the chosen headwear of demonstrators calling attention to Trump’s crude comments about women. In a 2005 recording that surfaced publicly in October, Trump was heard saying he could use his celebrity status to make sexual advances toward women and even “grab them by the p---y.”
Such behavior, which Trump passed off as “locker-room talk” is shameful for someone occupying the White House, marchers said.
“When women feel that it is enough, we have had enough, we come together. And we do it in a nonviolent, peaceful, loving way,” Alicia Sanchez, board president of KBBF, Santa Rosa’s bilingual public radio station, said in an interview after the rally. “We’re going to get success through unity. We are not going to go backward, but forward for women’s rights, for immigrant rights, for human rights, for black lives.”
Santa Rosa’s demonstration was a “sister march” to the Women’s March on Washington that began in the nation’s capital hours earlier. More than 500,000 people attended that rally, including Santa Rosa resident Ellen Bowen, who was attending her first political protest.
“It was like being a sardine,” she said of the crowd. “But it was also really heartening and exhilarating to see so many people that are of kindred minds.”
In the Bay Area and on the North Coast, rallies also took place in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sonoma, Napa Valley, Fort Bragg, Ukiah and elsewhere.
Signs carried in Santa Rosa had messages such as “Not my president,” “Keep the immigrants / deport Trump,” “Women’s rights are human rights,” “We the people means all of us” and “Make America smart again.”