Jan 20, 2017 (San Diego) The weather matched the mood of the people. It was cold, it was blustery and it was raining. When we have rain in San Diego, usually that dampens the mood and keeps people at home. We had two groups converge at the Federal building on Front Street for the protest. Between the two groups, we estimate the crowd to be between 800 and 1000.
They marched chanting, “No Trump, no KKK no fascist USA,” as well as more familiar chants, “Who’s streets, our streets,” and of course, “Tell me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.”
One crowd was organized and marched under the banner of the San Diego Alliance for Justice. The second marched under the banner of both the ANSWER coalition and MECHA. The people marching were white, black, brown, old and young. Young faces, though, were in larger numbers. This demonstration was not just about the inauguration of Donald Trump, it was also about commonality. The marchers came together for causes such as social and economic justice.
One group marched down from City College, where they held a previous rally. The second from City Council. Ari Honarvar, an immigrant from Iran, recalled the experience of her country when they put in power a demagogue. This is in the late 1980s.
“Years ago, in the country of my birth, people put an outsider in charge. Why? Because they were fed up with corruption. They were tired of the government that wasn’t listening to them. They were tired of the status quo.”
She continued. “this outsider promised us more freedom, than what we know what to do with.” She went on to recall that “he promised us that we would have more jobs.” People decided it was a good idea to put this man, this outsider, in charge.
Then the changes started. Honarvar recalled that “before we could remember our former civil rights. a rumor began that the new government was not going to tolerate opposing views. Before we could remember our former civil rights, women’s rights were cut in half.” This sent a chill down the crowd, and most started listening with even more attention.
She went on, “people of a certain religion were targeted, and named as the enemy of the state. Protesters and dissidents were labeled as terrorists. They were jailed and they were persecuted, and they were executed.”
As to the media, she added, that newspapers were shot down. Women, she added, “took to the streets to claim their rights,” in the hundreds of thousands. “They were hit over their heads, tear gassed and jailed.” She advised those present that this was a time of hyper-vigilance and awareness. Left unsaid, it is also a time to fight back, which was the mood of the crowd.
Reverend Beth Johnson echoed Honorvar, and she added that we had to fight, like our lives depend on it, to save the earth, because it does. “IF we are not to follow the fate of the country before us, we are to resist.”
Johnson emphasized that this is resistance to a Republican agenda that seeks to roll back “policies that at least offer some hope of economic regulation and environmental protections.”
She added that the agenda that is now going to go forward “cares nothing for the people.” This is “an agenda that betrays life, the values of justice and freedom.” It is also an agenda that despises those who “get in their way of dismantling the safety net.”
Johnson did stress that “we must resist. We must center people of color. We must protect our Muslim and immigrant siblings; anyone who is threatened.”
“We are here to love up and resist.” This message was not hers alone. It was a unifying message across the two protest marches that joined up at the Federal building. It was an act of resistance against what many perceive as rising fascism.
Seth Roque spoke of his time at Standing Rock. He was among the many San Diego military veterans who went to North Dakota las month. He read from the Declaration of Independence, which is something each veteran there understood. We are quoting the section he read:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it
Roque then addressed the fact that the protests have remained peaceful and focused. He also said they continue. There was a single thank you from the crowd for standing shoulder to shoulder with first peoples.
One of the other speakers, Cecille Estelle, addressed the crowed with one theme that is critical. Voting is not the end of the responsibility for voters. Estelle also addressed the fact that people were extremely depressed on election night. “his win was based on a simple majority loss to Hillary Clinton.” This is a common theme we have heard from many activists. The Electoral college gave this to Trump, but he does not have the majority of voters across the country.
Another important point is that the movement is growing from a sense of resistance and division to one of unity. There is a growing recognition that intersectionality of causes also includes the unification of civil and economic rights. One cannot exist without the other.
Jeeni Crizenso who works with the homeless in this town, advocating for permament housing, also read a poem. Her poem spoke of the hope of eight years ago, and the contrast with this day. She also asked the crowed how many participated in Occupy San Diego. A few hands went up. She quipped that this would have to be fixed, and grow this into a movement.
One of the attendees, who only gave us the name of Johnny, was dressed like Uncle Sam, something you usually expect to see at conservative events. On this he told Reporting San Diego: “Conservative don’t own America.” He added that he was embracing “patriotism in the name of progressive causes.”
At one point there was a rumor that a group of Trump supporters was on the way. One of the organizers remarked that they were getting an escort from San Diego Police. Both marchers had the protection and full escort of San Diego Police. The Trump supporters never materialized, and the march soon dispersed. There was going to be a final event at Cesar Chavez park this night. On the 21st we expect the Women’s march, which joins a national movement. This march expects better weather, however.