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    Thousands March in Bay Area Anti-Trump Demonstrations, Prepare for January 21 Women’s March on Washington

    By Dennis McMillan

    Organizing is already underway for the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, when women will stand together in solidarity with their partners and children for the protection of rights, safety, health and for families. As the event page shares, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us—women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

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    The event follows a series of protests involving thousands of participants that began the day after Donald Trump was declared President-elect. In San Francisco, an overwhelming majority of voters (84.3 percent) had chosen Hillary Clinton as their candidate. Angry, agitated people gathered in Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro with their homemade signs to a last-minute candlelight rally. Veteran activist Cleve Jones opened the event saying, “We must love each other, and then unify!” He was angry that people would compare this presidential election to that of Reagan and the two Bushes. He compared the Trump election to the 1933 rise of fascism in Germany. “We must defend each other!” he concluded. People raised their burning candles in harmony and camaraderie.

    Protesters carried signs reading: “Build Bridges, Not Walls!” “Not My President!” “Eliminate the Electoral College: One Person, One Vote!” “Stronger Together” (the Hillary Clinton slogan—now more prescient than ever) and very succinctly: “Over It.”

    Rainbow flags flew everywhere from proud queer hands.

    Cabaret chanteuse Leanne Borghesi was not dressed in her funny faux queen drag as the hilarious Ms Anita Cocktail, because this was not a fun occasion. She was dressed as the very sad Statue of Liberty with glittered tears running down her face. Another protester held a life-sized cardboard representation of the naked Trump statue that appeared in Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro months ago—but the face had been replaced with that of a very scary clown. Even more unnerving than the original Trump face.

    A spokesperson from National Center for Lesbian Rights said, “Though we are scared, we have come together, and we will never let same-sex marriage be undone.” She suggested people in depression or distress call the NCLR helpline at 415-392-6257 or toll free 1-800-528-6257 during office hours (9 am to 5 pm Pacific time).

    Activist Ignatius Bau said, “We cannot give in to fear or depression. We need to change hearts and minds.”

    A longtime Castro resident since 1973, recalled protests ranging as far back as Vietnam and the Briggs anti-gay initiative, saying, “We’re going to have to fight. But we’re used to that.”

    Stela Furtado, Miss San Francisco Leather 2016 also known as D. Love, said, “We will not go back. We have power!” and led the crowd in a chant of “We have power!”

    Marriage Equality USA activist John Lewis recalled how we fought against the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. “We will continue to fight for equality, and never give up.” Then he coaxed the assembled demonstrators to chant over and over again, “Never Give Up!” He concluded, “This is just the first night of a long, long fight.”

    Someone in the crowd started another chant, the old ACT UP rallying cry, “Act Up, Fight Back!” and the crowd joined in – many, many times—loud and proud.

    Activist and spiritual leader Gregg Cassin suggested people turn to their neighbor, introduce themselves to perfect strangers, and exchange hugs. As the protesting group from Powell Street marched into the Castro to join those assembled there, we all sang the traditional protest song, “We Shall Overcome”—with tears in our eyes.

    At the end of the Castro rally, thousands from the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market rally joined the Castro contingent to march down Castro Street to the Mission district, showing solidarity for immigrants’ rights. A large banner from ANSWERCoalition.org—stretching across both lanes of Castro Street—led off the parade of protesters stating, “Trump says Go Back. We say Fight Back!” The next flank chanted, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” and “Donald Trump, go away! Racist, sexist, anti-gay!” There was one humorous sign from an angry woman regarding Trump’s molestations that had been revealed on news programs nationwide: “This pussy grabs back!”

    The final flank of demonstrators was hundreds from the Bicycle Coalition, walking their bikes and chanting in unison. The combined rallies made an impressive line two lanes deep and over six blocks long. People estimated the total as much as 10,000.

    As was mentioned earlier, that was just the first of many protests to follow.

    Four more SF Anti-Trump Protests/Peace Demonstrations occurred the weekend of November 12–13. One event starting at Powell and Post streets declared as their mission: “refusal of Trump & Pence and their endorsement of racism, xenophobia, ableism, misogyny, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and hate in general.”

    A Group Hug in Dolores Park on November 13 at noon was formed “for those looking for a little comfort at the end of the week,” because “we’re all in a lot of pain,” the organizers said, and “to spread the love and remind each other that we are here for one another as one family.” Downtown protesters of over 1,000 attendees held an 11am sit-in in the public space outside 555 California Street—a building of which Trump is a partial owner.

    San Francisco March for America also happened on November 13. Starting at 11 am behind the de Young Museum, the march had participants go down JFK Drive to Ocean Beach. People wore safety pins (a gesture after Brexit, to signify to those around you that you are a beacon of “safety”). In the U.S., it was quickly adopted after the election to show support for victims of hate.

    The next week, students from at least 10 different high schools walked out of school and marched around the city to protest the election. San Francisco Unified School District officials put the number of students in the district participating in the walkout and protests at around 2,000. Following that, San Francisco’s public schools were offered a classroom lesson plan that calls President-elect Donald Trump a racist, sexist man who became president “by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.” The union that represents city teachers posted the plan on its website and distributed it via an email newsletter to its more than 6,000 members. The school district has more than 57,000 students.

    On November 19, the ANSWER Coalition sponsored a “Dump Trump” demonstration in United Nations Plaza—despite damp weather. Some of the hundreds spread out a large parachute and assembled in a circle around it.

    The demonstrations will certainly continue, no doubt bringing a huge resurgence come Inauguration Day 2017, January 20. Note that the Women’s March on Washington is set for the very next day: https://www.facebook.com/events/2169332969958991/