Gainesville’s Women’s March brought solidarity for local women in a time of strife.
On Jan. 20, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. His crowd was modest in size and speckled with red hats.
On Jan. 21, a counter-movement was declared as a sea of pink knit hats with kitten ears descended on more than 75 countries and all seven continents.
In Gainesville, three protests took place over the two days. On Friday, Joseph Peralta, a third year plant science major at the University of Florida, led a student walkout down University Avenue to The People’s Inauguration at City Hall. The next day, the National Women’s Liberation organized a strike in front of the Hobby Lobby on Newberry Road, and protesters marched from city hall to Depot Park.
These protests were comprised of activists, students, mothers, fathers and children. Though many said they were angry and heartbroken, the protests were not about grief. The students participating in the walkout danced and laughed their way down University Ave as cars honked in solidarity. At the women’s strike, a little girl passed out sugar cookies because her mom told her to, while another lay in the grass coloring a poster.
A new administration wants their opposition to feel defeated, but these past two days have held nothing but determination and unity. The chants, posters and raised fists sent President Trump an irrefutable message: “This is what democracy looks like!”
Drumming up support for the walkout, Peralta (center) leads the group in a chant of “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” “You nervous?” he asked Gabby Newman (right) before starting the chant. She responded that she was. “I’m a little nervous, too,” he said. Their chants caught the attention of a passing-by student. Though she hadn’t originally planned to protest, she decided to join them.
Aliya Maas, 17 (right), and Elizabeth De Costa, 16 (left), skipped school to attend the People’s Inauguration. “[Elizabeth’s] family supports Trump, and they think she’s at school,” Maas said, laughing. The two plan to attend more rallies and can’t wait for when they can finally vote.
Sisters Taya (right) and Kate (left) Kesser attended The People’s Inauguration with their mom, Mia. “We talk about things at home, like our friend, Biv, who is Puetro Rican and gay, right girls?” Mia asked her daughters. They giggled. “We talk about both sides,” she continued. “I let them make up their minds.” The girls know one thing: “Trump is not good for our country,” Kate said.
“I’m here to share a message from Star Trek, because Star Trek pushes for the equality of all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” said Darsa Donelan, a 31 year old physics professor from Minnesota. “I do not think that our next president believes in the equality of all people.” If Donald Trump was a member of an alien race, Donelan said he would be a Ferengi, as they are “know only to care for their own personal fame and money.”
Ashley Lazarki, a first year journalism student at UF, participated in the student walkout to show that she does not support the new president. “I’m going to be watching him like a hawk,” she said. “If he does anything wrong, I will get involved in whatever organizations I need.”
The Women’s March on Washington in Gainesville
“I’m just overwhelmed by how much people tolerate injustice and hatred,” said Robin Best, a second year international studies major at UF. “I believe in street protest. It helps people spread awareness, but it’s not good enough.” Like many of the men and women at the strike, Best plans to call and write her representative. “Maybe people can get together here and do things that make a difference,” she said.
Julie Matheney, an organizer with NWL, lead the protesters in a chant of “Not the church! Not the state! Women must decide their fate!”
“It just seems appalling when someone disagrees on basic human rights,” said Madison Drum, a first year geology major at UF. “I wanted to be here to get involved. Before, it wasn’t a necessity. But in the next four years it will be.” She went to the protest with her mom.
Protestors chant “My body! My choice!” as passing cars honk in support.
Linda Paletti, 63, came to the strike with her daughter (not pictured) and her granddaughter, Mia, to stand up for women’s rights. “The last time I was in a protest was for the Vietnam War,” she said, laughing. “It was about time I got involved again.”
Rachel Kline, a fourth year political science major at UF, was canvassing for Ken McGurn when she saw a Don’t Tread on Me flag in one of the houses in the neighborhood. “I thought it was ridiculous, cause so many of our rights are being tread on,” she said. After the election, she decided to create the shirt she’s wearing. You can buy one here. All proceeds go directly to Planned Parenthood.
Donelon strikes again.
Dancing, Cat Bartlett leads the crowd in a chant. “We’ve got to reclaim our power,” she said. “We have to stand up for a unified country against a Divider-in-Chief.”
Protesters didn’t have to bring their own signs. The NWL came ready with extra ones to pass out.
Dawn Kistler Iannone, 41, came to the strike with her daughter. “I’m concerned about what’s gonna happen for me, my daughter and all women, our bodies and our choices,” she said.
Anna Gorham, 16 (center right), came to the march with her friends, who preferred to be unnamed. “We’re here in solidarity with the march,” Gorham said. “It’s necessary to show resistance.” Women are not given equal opportunities, which Gorham says she has already experienced. “I’ve been told I don’t look smart,” she said. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Women’s right are human rights, and human rights are civil rights,” said Blake-Alexandria Collins, a 22-year-old behavioral therapist. “ I’m gonna march for civil rights as long as I can. I have been taught my whole life that this era is over, and it’s simply not true. It feels like we’re regressing as a society, and I don’t want to stand by and let that happen.”
Kathie Sarachild, Zoharah Simmons, a professor of religion at UF, and Pierce Butler stand back from sidewalk and watch the crowd. Sarachild and Simmons met in 1962, when they were members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC. “Activism is certainly a uniting factor in our friendship,” Simmons said.
Faith Bennett, 24, studies history at UF and volunteers her time at the Civic Media Center. She plans to get her doctorate in history. “There’s a lot of emphasis on how … Trump is a new era of hatred,” she said. “What’s really important for people to realize is that it’s historical. It’s been centuries in the making. Everything he says is building on things other politicians have been saying in America.”
Across the street, Sebastian Sarmiento, 26 (left), and Natalie Ponce, 25 (right), hold a red flag. “I strongly believe we need to stand up for our rights,” Ponce said. “We’re both from immigrant families, so we gotta fight.”
PJ Worth (left) holds a flag for their friend, Jean Zeeb (right). “[The flag] shows both my politics and my patriotism,” Zeeb said. “I’m embarrassed for us on the world stage, and I’m extremely frightened of fascism and nuclear conflagration. But, I’m mindful that Hillary won by almost three million votes. That’s a reason for patriotism alone.”
Susan Browning Chriss, center, brought her whole family to the strike. “I have a black daughter, a gay daughter, a handicapped daughter, and a gay son. I’ve got many dogs in this fight,” she said.
“I’m here because I oppose the Trump-Putin regime,” said Barbara Drake. “I will protest every chance I can get, and I will be working on the local level to end gerrymandering and help protect the vulnerable and the oppressed in our local community.”
Sam Markowitt, 23, came to the strike to show solidarity. “I think it’s important to do things that empower other people,” he said.
Emily Persico, 23, holds a sign made by her cousin, Bre Shim. She graduated UF last year with a degree in environmental science and plans on joining an environmental nonprofit.
A passing car shows support for the protesters.
“I was trying to [make the signs] all meme-based,” said Kristen Wolfe, 29. She said she was attempting to appeal to the younger generation. “I don’t want to see everyone I know lose their rights … I’ve signed up for a lot of things today,” she said, laughing.
Valerie Thoroyan (left) and her roommate, Anika (right), who preferred not to give her last name, came out to the strike to show support for the women in Washington. “We’re nasty women,” Anika said. “Might as well be Mean Girls.”
Clea Lauriault, a teacher at Gainesville High School, came to the strike to protest Trump’s administration.
Toria McLaughlin Martinez, an 18-year-old communications major at Santa Fe College, went to the rally because her parents couldn’t. “When I was a teenager, I had this appetite for learning more about politics, mainly American politics. My knowledge has only grown,” she said. After graduation, she plans on joining a nonprofit.
Katheryn Baker, 52, went to the strike because of her overwhelming grief, she said. “But, of course, I was trying to make a pun on Trump’s awful tweets,” she said. The strike was the best time she’s had since the election.
Autumn Doughton, 36 (left), Holly Gibbs, 31 (center), and Julia Anderson, 30 (right), decided to turn their anger into art. “Women are powerful, and it’s time to use that to make some change,” Doughton said.
Grace Devries, 13, went to the rally with her mother. “We should fight for the things we deserve,” she said.
“We have to do everything in our power to defeat intolerance,” Jessica Ryan, 58, said. “We’ve got to fight intolerance and hate, we’ve got to defy them on every level.”