More Than 30,000 San Diegans March For Women’s Rights
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Aired 1/20/17 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Thousands Of San Diegans To March For Women's Rights
Sarah Dolgen Shaftel, organizer, San Diego Women's March
Aired 1/23/17 on KPBS News.
Downtown San Diego was a sea of pink as thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego for the Women's March Saturday morning.
UPDATE: 1:36 p.m., Jan. 21, 2017
San Diego police estimate 30,000 to 40,000 people participated in the Women's March in downtown San Diego Saturday. By the time the front of the march reached its destination, there were still marchers leaving the staging area about a mile away.
San Diego Trolley service was inundated by demonstrators, causing long waits at trolley stops along the way. Some bus service that normally covers all of the downtown area was halted at City College as the crowds became too large. And two additional Coaster trips were added to accommodate marchers coming from the North County.
Organizers of the local march originally anticipated about 25,000 people would show up, but like at so-called "sister marches" across the world, attendance shattered expectations. Media outlets in Los Angeles are reporting 750,000 marched in the demonstration there. Early reports out of Washington, D.C., raised turnout estimates from 200,000 to 500,000. Across the world, an estimated 3 million individuals marched, up from an estimate of 1.3 million.
North County March
In North County, an estimated 4,000 people marched from the Civic Center in San Marcos to the campus of Palomar College on Saturday. A spokesman for the Sheriff's Department said fewer than 2,000 were expected. They reported the march concluded peacefully.
At the rally on campus, speakers called on the crowd to move "Forward Together," to support the rights of immigrants, women and the LGBT community, plus stand for protecting the environment. Many non-profit organizations also set up booths to help marchers find ways to stay engaged.
UPDATE: 11:59 a.m., Jan. 21, 2017
Downtown San Diego was a sea of pink as thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Civic Center Plaza for the San Diego Women's March Saturday morning. The march comes one day after the inauguration of President Trump. San Diego's demonstration is one of many rallies being held across the United States and around the world.
San Diego’s march started at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center Plaza and continued to the County Administration Center.
The organizers of the demonstration said the march is about fighting for not only women’s rights, but the rights of other marginalized groups as well.
“Standing up for women's rights is subsequently standing up for all human rights,” said Dawniel Stewart, an organizer of the San Diego Women’s March. “We are here to make a statement that this is us and we're going to fight for those rights and continue on beyond today. It’s just the first step.”
Among the crowd was state Sen. Toni Atkins, D-39, who said Saturday’s event is “a visible statement to the administration, to the world, that we will not be silent.”
“We intend to do everything we can to protect the policies and the programs we have put into place in California for women, for girls, for immigrants, for working families, for dreamers, for the transgender, for the LGBTQ community, we are going to fight everyday to make sure we hold the line,” said Atkins.
More than 20,000 San Diegans are expected to march in downtown San Diego Saturday and another 2,000 in San Marcos, to show solidarity with the Women's March on Washington.
They'll join an estimated 1.6 million people across the United States and abroad who are marching to affirm their commitment to the rights of all people, but particularly women, following the inauguration of Donald Trump as president.
"We need to stand up and say to our government, 'We are here, we are listening, we are watching, we are holding you accountable,'" said Sarah Dolgen Shaftel, one of the organizers of the San Diego march.
Dolgen Shaftel and other volunteers organized the downtown event with private donations and sponsorship by Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, the San Diego chapter of the National Organization for Women, Center for Community Solutions, Run Women Run and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.
It is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. at the Civic Center Plaza on Third Avenue, where speakers will rally attendees before leading a march along Broadway and Harbor Drive to the County Administration Center.
Speakers will include state Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego.
Organizers have urged attendees to take public transit or carpool.
In San Marcos, people will gather at the San Marcos Civic Center Plaza beginning at 11 a.m., then march at noon to Palomar College for a rally.
Organizers for both events have stressed they are peaceful demonstrations, but police will be on hand.
All people — including men and children — are invited to march.
"Our local Women's March stands firmly that we do not support or condone any marginalization of anybody, and if you threaten any group, you're threatening all of us because we're all in this together," Dolgen Shaftel said.
Last year's divisive campaign season and the subsequent election of Trump and a Republican-led Congress have raised fears that traditionally marginalized groups would face hostility and a rollback of hard-won policies and resources.
Already in Congress, lawmakers have taken the initial step in repealing the Affordable Care Act, which banned insurers from discriminating against women with higher premiums and offered no-cost birth control and preventative care. Republican lawmakers have promised a replacement that they believe will do a better job of curbing health care spending, but details have been sparse.
Many in the GOP leadership have said they would pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood and have pushed for tighter restrictions on abortion. Nearly 70 percent of conservative Republicans believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center.
Trump will also appoint a new Supreme Court justice, and many fear that could challenge the court's stance on abortion under Roe v. Wade.
"I want my daughter who is two and half years old to grow up in a world where she can make her own choices about her healthcare, where she can have safe healthcare, and where she can decide what she wants to do with her own personal family planning, just like I did," Dolgen Shaftel said.
In a confirmation hearing Tuesday, Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, outraged advocates for survivors of sexual assault when she refused to say whether she would uphold a directive from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that sets a lower threshold for proving sexual assault occurred on a college campus. The move was seen as a win in the fight against campus rape culture. DeVos said taking a stance on the directive Tuesday would be "premature."
And an early flashpoint for women this election, a video released in October shows Trump saying he can grope women, which constitutes sexual assault if consent is not given, because of his celebrity. He later apologized.
But Women's March organizers say their message does not rest on gender alone. Among the issues they've laid out: racial profiling, criminal justice reform, LGBT rights, broad workers rights, immigrant rights and the environment.
"I hope that people use this as not an end to something but as a beginning for themselves," Dolgen Shaftel said. "I hope that people ... continue to take steps in their own life to do what is right and to stand up for what they believe in, whatever that may be. If it's to continue to be a champion for the protection of the rights of women, wonderful. If it's because they are very concerned about the way African-American people are being treated in our country and they find a place to go with that, great. I think the point is to activate and ignite people."
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