Ocean Beach was flooded by thousands of people who came out to protest the Trump administration by spelling “RESIST!!” in giant letters made up of a diverse crowd of people, children and dogs.
Around 11 a.m., crowds of people starting to take the formation of giant letters previously outlined in the sand by volunteers earlier in the morning. Brad Newsham, who organized the event, sat on top of a ladder in the midst of the crowd as he gave directions and organized the lines.
Newsham, a 65-year-old one-man-army, has put on 12 to 15 similar events in the past 10 years. The first beach event spelled out “IMPEACH” during the Bush and Cheney administration and sparked 120 sister events around the world. Of these, the “RESIST!!” event is now the largest turnout of participants in San Francisco, with Newsham estimating 5,000 people in attendance.
Outside of the letter assembly, children and dogs played in the sand. Some people started chants while others sang songs, but everyone had smiles on their faces.
“This is so not about money for me,” Newsham said. “But I would pay to have that feeling you get from unleashing all of that happiness from 5,000 people. You get to uncork that and see how happy they are and that’s one heck of a human emotion to savor and appreciate.”
From letter to letter, Newsham would stand on a ladder with a megaphone in hand giving directions. He would end with introducing a “letter captain” to the group before moving on to the next letter. Newsham recognized long-time participant Micki Morales, 80, and introduced her as the letter captain of the first “S.”
“I have supported (Newsham) from the start,” Morales said. “I truly believe in his causes, and I believe in him, so that’s why I’m here and (the RESIST!! event) looks to be very successful.”
One of the volunteers, Louis Rosenbaum, was happy to be involved in a peaceful demonstration and wasn’t surprised to see that kind of positive energy in San Francisco. He believes in reaching out to the other side of the political spectrum now.
“Both sides have to meet in the middle,” Rosenbaum said. “We have to build bridges and find common ground.”
Rosenbaum believes people who voted for Trump out of fear of job security can’t be dismissed.
After more than two hours of arrangement, everyone, tightly packed in their letters, waved and cheered at the helicopter hovering above to take the final photo.
The event ended with everyone coming together one last time to build a human wall, which Newsham jokingly called a humane wall. Future events are to be expected, but Newsham wants to develop a committee to organize them going forward.
“In my mind, I think there is going to be a next one,” Newsham said. “But I’m trying to figure out how to make it another national thing where there would be same-day sister events.”
Newsham said he’s already received calls from half a dozen people asking about how they can contribute next time around.