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Women’s marches draw thousands of supporters in Fresno, Oakhurst and Visalia

Women's March draws large crowd in Fresno

Marchers from Women's March and Peace Fresno join together to support women's rights and to protest the Trump presidency along North Blackstone Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Fresno.
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Marchers from Women's March and Peace Fresno join together to support women's rights and to protest the Trump presidency along North Blackstone Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Fresno.

They gathered Saturday at a busy city intersection in Fresno, a quiet park in Visalia and a major highway to Yosemite in Oakhurst, determined to tell President Donald Trump and his administration not to be so quick to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy – especially when it concerns women’s rights and health care.

On all four corners of Blackstone and Nees avenues in north Fresno, people began gathering a little before 2 p.m. Saturday, bringing signs and balloons and wearing pink “pussy hats,” a symbol that has become synonymous recently with women’s rights. Peace Fresno president Dan Yaseen estimated that 2,000 people participated in the march and rally.

Women's March and Peace Fresno join forces during a march down Blackstone Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Fresno.

Connie Hines, 76, of Fresno said the march was personal. “I have five granddaughters, and I also know people who depend on the Affordable Care Act,” she said. Hines said she also marched in protest against the possible repeal of funds for Planned Parenthood.

Hines said Trump offends her: “I think he’s vulgar.”

Yaseen said 36 organizations were represented at the rally, some joining in the march. “This is a post-inaugural street demonstration,” Yaseen said of Peace Fresno’s setup on the corner outside of In-N-Out.

Other organizations included Faith in the Valley, the Brown Berets, Trans-e-Motion and the Human Rights Coalition.

Fresno’s march was one of three in the Valley and more than 600 in the world that took place Saturday.

Mary Beth Carter, 50, and her two daughters held signs. She wanted Trump to know there are consequences for his actions.

“He has this mentality of ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ ” she said. “Today he stood on hallowed ground in front of the CIA and talked about what a big crowd he had (at the inauguration).” Carter said she wants the marches to make the president realize that more than half of the nation does not agree with his views.

Virginia Bennett of Fresno brought her granddaughters, ages 17 and 9, with her to experience the rally and march. Bennett is worried about health care and Social Security under the new presidential administration. “We have to learn, too,” said Jade, 9.

Tyler Munoz of Fresno, who arrived with four of his friends, said he came to support his female friends. “Women’s rights are human rights,” he said.

At 2:25 the march began down the sidewalks, stretching down both sides of Blackstone and heading south toward Herndon Avenue but not blocking traffic. When the march got to El Paso Avenue, marchers crossed the street and headed back north to Nees.

People waved from their cars and honked all along the street, with marchers cheering back. Although women dominated the crowd, there were plenty of men and even children. One woman carried her infant in a sling with a toddler in tow as she marched.

Meanwhile, in Oakhurst, Saturday’s weather did not deter more than 200 people from participating in the Women’s March there, said organizer Rebekah Jensen.

It was “a pretty amazing turnout given rain, snow, and chain control over Deadwood,” she said via email. Jensen estimated that the vast majority of motorists passing the rally location at the corner of Highway 41 and Road 426 were in support.

“The reception we got made me really happy, given that I intended the march to be a positive, inclusive event and not a protest per se,” she said.

At Blain Park in Visalia, hundreds turned out for the Women’s March, many carrying pink signs.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPan

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