People march down the Market Street holding various signs related to women’s rights, honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, voting President Trump out, and urging people to go out and vote, during Women’s March in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 2020. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)
People march down the Market Street holding various signs related to women’s rights, honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, voting President Trump out, and urging people to go out and vote, during Women’s March in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 2020. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress)

Harika Maddala

Hundreds march for women’s rights, early voting in Women’s March SF

October 20, 2020

A series of women marches against the Trump administration broke out around the Bay Area and across the nation on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of San Francisco residents joined the movement on San Francisco’s Market Street, masked and with signs in hand.

The Women’s March typically takes place in January, but President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court was enough to spark retaliation from women’s rights activists. Trump’s pick for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat has a track record of strict conservative rulings. Some fear the landmark case Roe v. Wade would be at risk in the hands of a heavier, conservative-leaning Supreme Court. 

Charlotte Cupples holds a sign that says “I am speaking” on the backside and “Roar” on the front during Women’s March on Market Street in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 2020. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)

“The current administration is trying to unjustly put a person that is not pro-choice, not LGBTQ+-friendly, not human-friendly, not Muslim-friendly, not Jewish-friendly into the highest court in office,” Sophia Andary, chair of Women’s March San Francisco, said. “We’re here to be heard and to let everybody know that they can’t shut our voices.”

Participants met up at the Civic Center Plaza on McAllister Street where they could grab free signs or purchase Black Lives Matter merchandise and “Dump Trump” T-shirts. One of the most popular sign selections was a black-and-white portrait of Ginsburg, notoriously known as “RBG,” behind a neon pink background, with the word “VOTE” spelled out in white letters. 

When the clock struck 11 a.m., the march began. As participants walked down Market, they were greeted with cheers from onlookers, including a flock of Big Bus Tours tourists with cameras in hand. 

Others brought their own activist gear, including homemade costumes and signs. One child in a stroller held a sign that read, “Don’t vote for Donald Poopy,” scribbled in crayon.

Kathy Smith, a member of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, stood in front of the Powell & Market trolley with a handful of other women, all adorned in late-1800s attire. Their socially-distanced presence was a nod to the women activists that pushed for women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th Amendment, which happened a century ago this year.

“I really want everyone to get out and vote, of course, and celebrate 100 years since the women’s vote,” Smith said.

Smith and her historically-dressed friends were not the only ones who wanted to stand with the movement at a distance. Women’s March SF live streamed the march so vulnerable COVID-19 groups that supported the cause could participate safely. Roughly 200 individuals tuned into the event online according to Evan Sirchuk, who helped organize the stream.

A person holds up a sign highlighting “Ruth” in the word “Truth,” honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, during Women’s March on Market Street in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 2020. The Women’s March organizers handed out free signs to the participants at the start of the march, on McCallister Avenue. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)

As the march concluded in front of the Ferry Building, an organizer thanked the crowd for attending and reminded them to vote early. 

“If you’re a child, your parents told me that they were going to buy you ice cream after this,” the organizer said to the participants. “Or a vegan, gluten free dessert of your choice.” 

Participant Jamie Lee said she thought the march was a success. She said she joined the movement to affirm that she recognizes her privilege and her voice, and she stands with immigrants, Black lives and communities of color, the environment, the disenfranchised and the collective future.

I thought the women’s march today was a great showing and was full of energy, energy that’s ready for real change, to continue fighting [for] a more just society, with a sense of hope for the future and this election,” Lee said.

Another marcher, Marina Walker, said it felt good to have a chance to come together with other people, stand up and be counted.

“I think it’s important for us to express our dissent for replacing RBG before the election and to rally as many people as possible to use our vote to drive change,” Walker said.

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