Saturday’s Eureka Women’s March attracted thousands of people to Old Town for the second year running, rallying for women’s rights and against the Trump administration.
“They are still as focused, motivated and angry as they were last year, which is great,” march co-organizer Rae Robison said.
“We as women are the givers of life,” former Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairwoman Danielle Vigil Matsen said to the crowd. “We are mothers, daughters, sisters. We are united as women, we are the future.”
By 10 a.m., hours before the first scheduled speech, volunteers gathered at Madaket Plaza at the top of C Street to begin setting up tables, tents, chairs, the stage and everything else the march required. The series of speeches began at 1 p.m. and included speakers representing local tribes, Humboldt Pride, the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, the Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Central Labor Council, Centro del Pueblo, Seventh Generation Fund, the North Coast Rape Crisis Team and more. Before the first speaker began the Madaket Plaza was full; by the third speaker the plaza was overflowing into the adjacent puddle-ridden parking lot and still people kept coming and coming and coming.
“They may call us snowflakes,” Arcata United Methodist Church Pastor Bethany Cseh said, “but together, in cooperation, we are a blizzard.”
Protestors held all sorts of signs aloft during the event. One was in the shape of a fist raised in protest with fingernails painted bright red, while others bore slogans such as “They tried to bury us but they didn’t know that we were seeds,” “Vote like your rights depend on it,” “A woman’s place is in the resistance,” and many more playing on vulgar comments attributed to President Donald Trump.
After the speeches, the march made its way up the boardwalk to the F Street Plaza.
Police scanner traffic heard after the march began indicated there were over 2,000 people in attendance. When the front of the group reached I Street, there were still marchers on the plaza.
Tracy Katelman, one of the event’s organizers, said in a 3:46 p.m. post to event’s Facebook page that 4,360 had attended the march.
Eureka City Councilwoman Natalie Arroyo said she spoke at last year’s march and that she wanted other voices to be heard this year.
“I’m feeling great energy,” she said ahead of the march.
“We hope to make sure that everyone who is passionate is registered [to vote],” Humboldt County League of Women Voters board member Deborah Downs said while standing behind a table full of voter registration forms. “And not only registered but informed.”
“It’s increasingly important now that people support our democracy because it’s under threat,” Humboldt County League of Women Voters president Rollin Richmond said.
“It’s under threat because people don’t participate,” Downs added.
March co-organizer Robison said she was marching for women’s rights and the #MeToo movement.
“As a rape survivor I think it’s important that woman’s voices are heard and we keep the momentum going,” she said.
Robison said the entire march was put together over the past two weeks with assistance from the group who organized last year’s march.
Terry Uyeki was one of the organizers of last year’s march who was out again on Saturday. She handed out flyers inviting people in Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties who marched to share their story at tinyurl.com/tellyourmarchstory.
Uyeki came wearing her protest gear.
“This is the ‘Notorious’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg and of course she wore her famous dissent necklace,” she said.
Uyeki also held a sign that read, “I stand with Dreamers, children’s health, human rights and decency, liberty and justice for all.”
She repeated the last line on her sign, which is also the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“ ‘Liberty and justice for all,’ ” Uyeki said. “Think of how many times we’ve said that. They should not be empty words.”
Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.