Thousand gather to protest political climate

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – More than 20,000 participants marched downtown for social justice in the Women’s March Saturday afternoon, making it the largest protest in St. Pete history.

A peaceful stream of humanity marched from Demens Landing to Bayshore Drive and north along Beach Drive.

The colorfully worded slogans on posters echoed a plethora of issues: “Can’t hate-educate! Climate change is real,” “Trump: racist and rapist,” “Make rapists afraid again,” and “Show up, Stand up, Speak Out!”

Women, men and young people marched together in support of one another to express dissatisfaction for possible restriction of women’s reproductive rights, stifling immigration policies, roll-back climate control initiatives and the growing tolerance for racial division.

“We can participate fully in the democratic process and be active citizens without ever having to go toward violence,” said organizer Amy Weintraub, who initially planned on only hundreds showing up.

With many reasons for participating, the one common thread was peace and equality for everyone.

“This is the first step in building a movement for people in the St. Petersburg area to get involved in social justice issues at a critical time,” Weintraub said.

Cathy McCarthy form Washington, DC was here on vacation and feels terrified about the current political state.

“Trump is a scary man. He can do really bad things for our country.”

“I am here marching for women’s rights, and just basic rights all the way around for equality, and I’m here representing,” said St. Pete resident Kristin Cobb.

St. Pete’s march was one of hundreds held around the country that coincided with the Women’s March on Washington, which was aimed at Donald Trump, especially at his statements and positions regarded as anti-women.

“I couldn’t. He doesn’t represent us all. He represents the white sexist male and we need more people who unify and equal all of us,” said Largo resident Jaycee.

“I’m an immigrant, and I have been given so many wonderful things in this country. I want that for other people. I’m marching for my soon-to-be grandson; I’m marching for women’s equality. I’m marching for humans, all humans,” expressed Afsom Nenuhri of Tampa.

Not expecting as many peaceful protestors, the police had to close some of the streets for the sheer number of people, such as a St. Pete resident named Elizabeth.

“I think that it’s really important that we send a very strong reminder to our new president that women have rights and reproductive rights are important and that education is important and that we need to education our society that we can break down stereotypes.”

Mixed media artist Haleh Pinney said she was there because she stands for everything that Trump opposes.

“I’m just supportive of everything that Donald Trump is not, and I believe in women’s rights and I’m with all my people.”

Mayor Rick Kriseman assured that St. Petersburg is a safe zone among the political turmoil happening in America.

“If you’re worried about what comes next in this country, you should know St. Petersburg is your shelter and we have your back,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman, who declared Saturday as Women’s Rights Day in St. Pete.  “We’re all in this together.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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