Women’s March LA puts a spotlight on local activists and politicians

By Christina Campodonico

Hundreds of thousands of protesters pulled out their pink “pussyhats,” “Nasty Woman” T-shirts and sundry accoutrements of resistance and dissent for the fourth annual Women’s March Los Angeles in downtown LA on Saturday. The Women’s March Foundation estimates that more than 300,000 attended the rally that began in Pershing Square at 9 a.m. with an indigenous blessing and concluded at the foot of Los Angeles City Hall where a lineup of entertainers, activists and politicians spoke on a wide range of progressive topics from reproductive, disability, LGBTQ+ and voting rights to the environment, equal pay and the 2020 census.

Just like the giant inflatable “Baby Trump” balloon that hovered over the jam-packed crowd in Grand Park during the rally, the subject of the president and his impeachment were an inescapable presence in the remarks of the demonstration’s speakers.

Academy Award-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin, speaking through an interpreter, taught marchers how to say “no” in sign language to “bigotry,” “racism,” and “children in cages” and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner reiterated her condemnation of the Trump administration’s handling of trans issues. English singer Seal uplifted the crowd with a stirring rendition of the melodic pop anthem “Kiss From a Rose.”

Among the star-studded lineup of speakers were Rep. Karen Bass (whose congressional district includes Mar Vista, Del Rey and Culver City) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (whose district includes Westchester and Playa del Rey).

Sporting a purple blazer, Bass emphasized the unfitness of Donald Trump to hold office, the importance of participating in the 2020 census, the importance of voting “blue” and assured the crowd that “we are on the right side of history.”

“There is somebody in the White House who is a clear and present danger, not just to the United States, but to the planet,” said Bass of Trump. “We impeached him. We know it’s forever. We don’t know whether we’ll get rid of him before November, but in November, he’s gone because we can’t lose, we can’t lose, we can’t lose, we can’t lose, we can’t lose!”

Giving shout outs to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, former Trump Russia advisor Dr. Fiona Hill, Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams, Pentagon official Laura Cooper and sexual assault survivor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Waters highlighted the ways women in every sector of “American life” have been instrumental in the impeachment of Donald Trump and the so-called “resistance” to his administration’s appointments and policies.

“Women are using their voices and making their resistance felt,” Waters said. “Just look at the women who have emerged over the past three years — these ‘sheroes,’ patriots and truth tellers have been unafraid to speak truth to power and place their careers and lives on the line to protect this democracy and save America from the most unqualified, untrustworthy, undignified, no-good, low-down president this country has ever seen.”

“She was the speaker of the day,” said writer Terrie Silverman, a Venice High alumna who’s attended the march every year since its inception and teaches a class at Beyond Baroque in Venice. “She doesn’t give up. She speaks up and that represents, I think, everything that’s great about America and democracy.”

Other Westside voices highlighted at the march included activist-actress Sabra Williams, the founding director of The Prison Project rehabilitative theater program for incarcerated individuals that’s based out of The Actors’ Gang in Culver City, and 58-year-old Sodexo prep cook Angela Fisher. Ahead of the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, Fisher and Unite Here Local 11 successfully organized service workers at LMU to create a picket line so strong that not one democratic presidential candidate scheduled for that debate dared to cross it.

“If I can do it, so can you,” Fisher, who had become homeless during her time working for Sodexo, said triumphantly.

“There’s power in numbers and it’s a way to reinvigorate,” said Silverman of the march. “So, I just get inspired. … It fills my well.”

1 Carrying banners, flags and more protesters paraded down the streets of downtown Los Angeles for the fourth annual Women’s March LA 2 Rep. Maxine Waters spoke about the empowering role women have played in the Trump resistance 3, 4 & 5 Demonstrators came up with colorful and creative ways to show their support for women’s rights 6 Actress Marlee Matlin gave an impassioned speech on disability rights in American Sign Language [Photos by Shilah Montiel] 7 Women’s March LA co-founder Deena Katz (right) with Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean 8, 9, 10 & 11 A bright orange “Baby Trump” inflatable floated over the crowd in Grand Park, which was entertained and uplifted by the messages of celebrities such as Seal and Raven-Symoné