Bigger crowds come out for second Women’s March Modesto
The Women’s March Modesto sought to turn anger into action a year into the Trump presidency.
The second annual event, part of series of nationwide marches timed with the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, brought out an even larger crowd than last year. More than 1,200 people, up from about 1,000 in 2017, marched down McHenry Avenue to a rally at Graceada Park. They brought handmade signs, leftover pink pussy hats and more than a few faithful canine companions as part of the peaceful protest.
While last year’s event was a hastily organized affair fueled largely on passion, this year’s march was more coordinated with multiple groups signing on early. Volunteers roamed through the crowd gathered at McHenry and Briggmore avenues to register people to vote. And at the park more than a dozen booths — from nonprofit, political, civil rights and other causes — had representatives handing out information and signing people up for various actions.
“This is more than a march, it’s a movement,” said Wendy Byrd, former president of the local NAACP chapter and one of the rally speakers. “What we’ve seen since last year is when we march, we run... When we run we vote. When us women vote we win.”
Like last year, the crowd ranged in age from children in strollers to teens, 20- and 30-somethings to those 50 and up. Signs ranged from the blunt (“Mad as hell”) to the humorous (“Ugh, where do I even start?”) and inspirational (“I am a snowflake and together we are an avalanche”). The diverse group included repeat marchers from last year and new marchers alike. Seventeen-year-old Stockton teen Tianna Holloman held a sign that read, “Voting is my super power.” She turns 18 before the midterm elections in November and plans to cast her ballot for the first time.
“I feel like this is an important thing for the community. A lot of women don’t put themselves out there because it’s still a man’s world,” she said. “So it’s important to come out and support women’s rights.”
There was less chanting along the route than last year, people’s signs and determination did most of the talking. The march was punctuated by several honks of support by passing cars. Though it also drew a handful of hecklers who shouted as they whizzed by. One persistent man, waving a sign that read “Thank God for Trump,” walked in front of the “Women’s March Modesto” banner for a portion of the way.
While the event was billed as nonpartisan, many of the Democratic candidates running to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Denham took part including T.J. Cox, Josh Harder, Dotty Nygard and Sue Zwahlen. More than a few “Dump Denham” signs also littered the crowd. The event’s main sponsors were the Stanislaus County Commission for Women, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and the Democratic Women’s Club of Stanislaus County. It was also supported by about a dozen other progressive area organizations including LGBT, women’s and Latino groups from across the Central Valley.
While the event by its very name was aimed at women, it welcomed men who were among many of its marchers.
“I think we’re all in this together and need as many men as we have women,” said John Garcia of Turlock who marched with his wife, Jennifer. “It’s time. I think it’s wonderful.”