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Thousands Rally in Women’s Marches Across the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Tens of thousands turned out Saturday in cities across the Bay Area for a series of Women’s Marches celebrating the record number of women sworn into Congress and advocating for women’s and civil rights.

It was the third year in a row for the marches, which began in January 2017 in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump, drawing huge crowds at events throughout the globe.

“Women will save the soul of America,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, told a crowd gathered at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater Saturday morning.

“This past November, we elected 113 women who were sworn in to serve in our nation’s capital in the most diverse House of Representatives ever,” Lee said to thundering applause and cheers from the audience.

Women’s March in Oakland, Jan. 19, 2019. (CBS)

Sonia Pina of Oakland echoed the theme, saying in an interview, “We have an unprecedented number of women in Congress. It’s exciting to see the effect of what we are doing,” referring to the marches, which began with the aim of electing more women.

Rachel Murch of Hayward said, “I support equality across all realms: LGBTQ, immigrants, all races, all religions.”

Signs included, “Vote! Prevent unwanted presidencies!” and “Toxic Masculinity Kills.” No final figure was available for attendance at press time, but organizers estimated about 10,000 people came.

After addressing the crowd at the Oakland Women’s March, Congresswoman Lee whisked across the bay to the San Francisco march in time to address demonstrators there.

Other speakers at the “Truth to Power” San Francisco event, which began at the Civic Center Plaza, included comedian and actor Mona Shaikh and Mayor London Breed.

After the rally, participants in the San Francisco event began marching from the Civic Center down Market Street to Embarcadero.

This was the third year for the Women’s March in San Francisco. The first was in 2017 on the day after President Trump was inaugurated. Organizers estimated 110,000 people marched that year. They say that number dropped to 80,000 in 2018 and this year they expected 60,000 but the view from Chopper 5 showed only about half that many marchers.

There were plenty of signs and banners with slogans, but missing were the large crowds of years past.

“I’m a little perplexed at why the turnout here is less than other years. I expected it would be a huge group,” said Amy Abascal who is marching for the second time.

Some say the lower turnout was part of a backlash over one of the organizers who spoke out in favor of Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan.

Christin Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum was there with her family. They have been at every Women’s March in San Francisco since the first one in 2017, but this year they had second thoughts about marching, especially because they’re a Jewish family.

She said that’s because of comments made this week by the Washington DC Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory. She appeared on ABC’s “The View” to defend her association with Louis Farrakhan – a top minister in the Nation of Islam, which is an organization designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of the “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LBGT rhetoric of its leaders.”

“We almost didn’t come,” said Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum. “I support the Women’s March, and the Women’s March is not Mallory, it’s not the anti-Semetics, it’s all the rest of us,” said Christin Hinojosa-Kirschenbaum.

“It’s still important to come together and show Washington that we’re united on some of these issues, which is equality for all,” said Michelle Meow, a community activist.

“I don’t really care about the politics of the organization. I want to stand up for women,” said Abascal.

Others think people are getting discouraged by a lack of change in the country’s leadership.

“I think people are just kind of beaten down a little bit. I mean, we’ve been living with this for a couple of years now, and you just get tired and you just want to get on with your lives,” said Dale Needles.

Organizers say they also saw a drop in donations to pay for the event. One of the organizers, Sophia Andary, said the day before the march, they were still $20,000 short of paying for the basic costs of the march.

Andary said she would be disappointed if the controversy over the leadership of the Washington D.C. Women’s March impacted the event here, especially since San Francisco’s march has no direct ties to the Washington D.C. group.

“I have no say or no knowledge of what they’re doing. We are our own group. We are our own community, and it’s important to stay in the movement,” said Andary.

Meanwhile, about 500 people turned out for the Women’s March in Petaluma, organizers said. After a rally at Walnut Park at Petaluma Boulevard South and D Street, participants marched through downtown.

In Walnut Creek, demonstrators gathered for a rally at Civic Park at Civic Drive and North Broadway, then marched through downtown.

In San Jose, a march began at 11 a.m. at San Jose City Hall, with a rally afterward at Arena Green East.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Tens of thousands turned out Saturday in cities across the Bay Area for a series of Women's Marches celebrating the record number of women sworn into Congress and advocating for women's and civil rights.

Massive Crowd Assembles In SF For Women’s March Rally

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A huge crowd from all over the Bay Area gathered in San Francisco Saturday afternoon for the Women’s March, a day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

By evening, the massive crowd was making its way down Market Street, in the rain. The official crowd estimate in San Francisco was 100,000, a number that rivals the march agains the Iraq War in this city, 14 years ago.

The march started at 3 p.m. with a rally at Civic Center Plaza. People then headed down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building Saturday evening.

Charlotte, a teenage girl from Cupertino, said she came up from the South Bay to participate “for my sister and my mother and myself.”

“It’s important to do this march now because I’m going to be 17 in two days and Trump is going to be the president when I am just becoming an adult,” she said. “I think the older generation still has a voice and should use that voice, but it’s also important for my generation to join in and speak up about what they think is right.”

Kathleen wore a pink “pussy” knitted hat with cat eyes and whiskers on it. Many at the various Women’s Marches taking place nationwide have sported similar hats, a reference to a 2005 video released during the presidential campaign in which Trump told an entertainment reporter about grabbing women by their genitals.

Sister Merry Peter from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of queer nuns, said sisters were marching in 38 cities nationwide Saturday.

“We’re here because women have always been with queer people in their struggles and it’s time to pay that back,” Peter said. “Today is the day our community has said that we have to have a rally to show that this election, while (Trump) may have won, he did not end the conversation.”

The San Francisco march was one of several that took place around the Bay Area, with others that started Saturday morning in Oakland, San Jose and Walnut Creek.

The crowd estimate in Oakland was 100,000 and in San Jose it was 25,000.

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

A huge crowd from all over the Bay Area gathered in San Francisco Saturday afternoon for the Women's March.