San Francisco Chronicle
Great divide over inauguration
Democrats: Californians streaming to Washington to rally against Trump
Bay Area filmmaker Tiffany Shlain was planning for months to attend the presidential inauguration.
The timing seemed perfect. Two weeks before the election, she debuted her latest film, “50/50: The Past, Present & Future of Women + Power,” about the struggle for women to achieve equality. The plan was to screen the film over the inauguration weekend as a celebration of the first female president … but that didn’t happen.
Nevertheless, Shlain is one of thousands of California progressives who are going to Washington this week. While she still plans on screening her film, Shlain is one of many going to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s ad-
ministration as part of a growing movement called the resistance.
Throughout the week there will be many protests, the centerpiece being Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Upward of 200,000 people are expected to participate, many wearing pink, handknitted, cat-eared caps as a show of pride and defiance to Trump and his attitudes toward women. California organizers say 6,000 people from the state signed up through Facebook to attend the Washington demonstration, but that estimate doesn’t include thousands expected to attend who haven’t expressed their intentions through the social media site to travel east for the gathering. The California delegation is expected to meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in front of the Department of Education (400 Maryland Ave. S.W.) and march together under 20 state flags.
While there are 12 sister Women’s March events across California, including in the Bay Area, many Californians want to make a larger statement in the city where Trump assumes the presidency. Few women will forget seeing antiHillary Clinton buttons sold outside the Republican National Convention featuring Clinton’s photo over the words, “Life’s a bitch. Don’t vote for one.”
California organizers say about 150,000 people have signed up through social media to attend Women’s March events in the state, including approximately 25,000 in San Francisco, 24,000 in Oakland and 5,000 in San Jose. They expect more to attend as 91,000 others have signaled via Facebook they might attend, and many others not connected to social media are likely to show up, too, organizers said. Nationwide, nearly 700,000 people have signed up to attend 370 events.
Three Democratic Bay Area members of Congress, representatives — Jared Huffman of San Rafael, Mark DeSaulnier of Concord and Barbara Lee of Oakland — are among the seven California House members — and 24 overall as of Sunday — who say they won’t attend the inauguration.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, going back and forth in my mind.” said Lee, who also didn’t attend former President George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration. “While I applaud and support the peaceful transfer of power, this is a celebratory occasion. And I’m not going to participate and celebrate him or his agenda or his campaign, which was based on bigotry.”
Other Californians express their opposition to Trump in more aggressive ways.
Organized under the name the Disrupt J20, activists calling themselves the DC Counter-Inaugural Welcoming Committee have been working for weeks, as they described in a fundraising email, to “make sure that (Trump) and his supporters won’t be able to celebrate the aspiring dictator in peace.”
More than 300 organizers met in Washington last week to plan how to protest events like the morning prayer breakfasts and the Deploraball, a gala at the National Press Club on Thursday night. It’s scheduled to feature bold-faced names such as Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart News editor who was banned from Twitter for repeatedly breaking harassment and abuse policies.
“We want to cause as much disruption as possible,” said Samantha Miller, a former Los Angeles resident who now lives in Washington, D.C., and is an organizer for the Disrupt J20 protests. “We completely oppose everything (Trump) stands for.”
Other Californians are going to Washington for more personal reasons. Palo Alto resident and Clinton donor Christine Suppes was in the Javits Center in New York on election night, standing 20 feet from where she expected to see Clinton claim victory.
“But when (campaign manager) John Podesta told us at about 2 a.m. to go home, I looked at my friend and said, ‘Oh, no. This is not about going home. I know there’s going to be a march in Washington, and I’m going,’ ” Suppes said. “I’m a 63-year-old woman, and I haven’t protested anything since the Vietnam War. But I’m going to (Washington) to show my outrage for this election.”
Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans said she hasn’t seen this kind of street energy since the run-up to the Iraq War.
“Code Pink — we’ve been engaged for 14 years, so it’s nice to feel everybody wake up again,” said the Los Angeles resident, who co-founded the peace group with San Franciscan Medea Benjamin. Evans demonstrated at President George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration just weeks after he — like Trump — won the presidency despite losing the popular vote.
She’ll be out there in Washington this week too, at permitted demonstrations and spontaneous street blockades.
“This is a lot more organized, a lot more groups involved,” she said.
Alameda resident Sarah Jo Neubauer wasn’t planning to attend the inauguration if Clinton had won. But after experiencing “an out-of-body experience” for a few days after the election, she and her wife knew they had to go to Washington. They fear that if Trump appoints more than one Supreme Court justice, the high court could overturn decisions protecting same-sex marriage and a woman’s right to abortion.
Being in a mass rally like the Women’s March will help Neubauer feel like she’s not alone in harboring those worries.
“It’s important to see such wide support from all sorts of communities” outside the liberal Bay Area, Neubauer said. “It’s important to know that we’re not alone, and we can overcome any threats to our democracy.”