Ruthie Sakheim, of Occupy San Francisco, holds a sign that says, ‘Resist, Disrupt, Persist’ at the ‘March for democracy event’ outside Mission High School in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2020. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)
Ruthie Sakheim, of Occupy San Francisco, holds a sign that says, ‘Resist, Disrupt, Persist’ at the ‘March for democracy event’ outside Mission High School in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2020. (Harika Maddala / Golden Gate Xpress)

Harika Maddala

Coalition marches for election transparency

‘March for Democracy’ stands against voter intimidation

October 28, 2020

Approximately 70 people gathered for a ‘March for Democracy’ protest, held in front of Mission High School on Saturday in an effort to stand up against voter suppression and intimidation in the upcoming 2020 general election.

The event was organized by a coalition which included the San Francisco Gray Panthers, Occupy San Francisco, Refuse Fascism, the First Unitarian Universalist Society and the SF Quakers. Participants started on 18th Street and ended at the corner of Market and Larkin Streets a few short blocks from the Civic Center.

Demostrators march down 16th Street while chanting slogans, asking people to vote for democracy. The march was a collaboration among many Bay Area organizations, including March for Democracy SF, Refuse Fascism and Occupy San Francisco. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)

According to organizers, the demonstration was part of a broader countrywide effort to organize against voter intimidation before election day.

Dolores Perez, lead organizer from the First Unitarian Universalist Society, said that the goal for the event was to bring attention to the comments made by President Donald Trump in the first presidential debate in which he called for his supporters to “to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” as well as to assure local citizens of their rights at the polls.

“The reason for this march is to encourage and show that a wide spectrum of people of all backgrounds to protect our vote by speaking out,” she said. “That’s the reason for this march to show that we are all together. We want a democratic vote and a democratic system. We want to signal the administration that they must respect our democratic and constitutional rights to vote and not interfere in the election process.”

Perez added that she believes that most citizens are “democratic” and favor a more direct system over the electoral college system. She said it is unfair that the population in California heavily outweighs the middle of the country, yet California still has the same amount of senators as those states.

Bruce Newburger, member of the Unitarian Church and organizer with Refuse Fascism, an organization that pledges to take to the streets if questions arise about the election results, said that even if the president loses his re-election bid, there will still be a need for continued events of solidarity to hold whoever is in power accountable.

Rita Foster waves an American pride flag before marching to Market and Larkin streets in San Francisco. Foster said she felt that America could not be represented by the blue and red colors alone, while associating them with the colors of political parties. “This flag better represents people of different identities,” Foster said. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)

“If Trump loses and is forced to leave power, people have to follow through on their commitments to stand up because the Democrats aren’t going to solve this either,” Newburger said. “I think that we’re going to have maybe even more of a huge job on our hands to follow through in the commitment people have made in this opposition to Trump. We have to tear down these repressive structures. We really need a revolution, personally I believe that.”

San Francisco resident Ethan Davidson heard about the event on Facebook and cleared his schedule to make sure he could make it to the march. Davidson, who sat in the middle of 18th Street during the speeches at the start of the march, stressed the importance of attending a march with a focus on the upcoming election. 

“We have to keep people from going to sleep,” Davidson said. “I already voted and did so as early as I could. What I did was pick up my ballot from the official election place at [United Nations] Plaza, took it home to fill it out as I needed to, more slowly, and took it back, hand-delivered it. I didn’t drop it in the mailbox at all.” 

Davidson said that although this tactic might not be necessary in San Francisco, there are other places around the country that may need to avoid third-party delivery of ballots. In Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the California Republican Party placed unauthorized ballot drop boxes, which Gov. Gavin Newsom responded by saying the party is “willing to lie, cheat and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power.

There are no current plans for any follow up marches, according to Perez, but the coalition will be organizing more events in the coming weeks based on the election results.

A resident leans out from his window to look at the protesters marching on the 18th Street in San Francisco. (Harika Maddala/ Golden Gate Xpress) (Harika Maddala)

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