Saturday, January 21, 2017

America. The Day After

They filled the downtown square here in this little New Mexico city, and they spilled over into the nearby streets and a big parking lot.

The people.

It was windy as only the southwest can be windy and there was a cold edge to the wind.

“Thank you for coming,” said the first speaker.  “Thank you for braving the weather.”

“Dump Trump!” cried a voice in the crowd.  It became a chant.  “Dump Trump.  Dump Trump.”

The people.

It was, officially, a women’s march of protest against the misogyny and lewdness of the the billionaire’s campaign and against his cabinet of repulsive rich people opposed to the very ideas their agencies were supposed to advance and protect.  Here in the southwest, and in many of the pictures from around the world, there seemed to be as many men as women.

A fireman carried a placard supporting Planned Parenthood.  A guy with a thick black beard applauded when an elderly woman passed him carrying a sign, “Pussy Grabs Back.”  Everywhere there were pink hats with little cats’ ears knitted into them.  

The town’s top environmental scientist said, “I've been attending events like this for 28 years in this town, and this is the biggest and best one yet.”

The people.

The People in the city squre
Word circulated that the rally in Denver was so big they had to cancel the march because people had packed the entire route.  In Los Angeles they clogged the streets despite a severe rainstorm.  In Washington the women’s protest drew larger crowds than the previous day’s inauguration ceremony. “Nothing can quite replace your first love, or your first march,” Gloria Steinem told them. In New York they turned fifth Avenue into “a river of people.” A sign said: "Make America Think Again." Huge turnouts were reported in cities around the world where women organized demonstrations against the new leader of the United States.

The people.

The Rally in Sacramento
Singers.  A chorus of men and women from the Social Justice Center sang protest songs, winding up with a rousing “We Shall Overcome” in a new arrangement written especially for the occasion.  The city’s self-described “first openly transgender male” called on us to protect the gains the LGBT movement made during the Obama administration.  “We will not give up,” he shouted and the crowd roared its approval.

The people.

A native American leader called for solidarity with Standing Rock and the movements for tribal rights.  “Stop the DAPL” signs waved.  A tall old guy asked if he could hug a woman waving a “We Are All Immigrants” sign.  An environmental activist warned that “extinction is not an episode.  Extinction is forever.”

The people.

A Latina’s placard urged Peace and Resistance.  No Wall! her companion shouted.  “Love Trumps Hate” signs were everywhere.  A young hispanic man read his poem, “Who Am I.”  He is every man, every woman, every child, crying out for justice. “Small Hands Cannot Hold Us Back,” a placard said.

The people.

Our friend Steve, the folk singer and gifted lyricist, performed with his partner, Kathy.  Guitar, mouth harp, tambourine — the age old weapons of the civil rights movement, the peace movement, of Occupy and Black Lives Matter.  He sang:

Standing Rock, our conscience stands with you
protectors all united for a cause we know is true

The people applauded.

He sang:

I will not waver in my path
I will not fear the tyrant’s wrath
I will not close my heart to love
Abandon hope or slay the dove
I will not close my heart to love
Renounce the world we’re dreaming of

And the people cheered.

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