While a crowd of over 200,000 people is expected to jam the streets of Washington D.C. on Saturday to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration, similar rallies are being held around the world. The biggest event in the Tampa Bay area will take place in St. Petersburg.
The Women’s Solidarity March St. Pete is scheduled noon to 3 p.m, beginning at Demens Landing on the waterfront in downtown St. Pete (that’s at 2nd Avenue SE and Bayshore).
“Maybe we were sleeping at the switch, but no more,” says Suzanne Benton, one of the organizers of the event, says about the result of last November’s election. She says she expects as many as 15,000 people to attend the rally.
“We’re not going to let democracy slip away from us,” Benton adds.”We’re going to be a model for the world. They’re very worried for us. We have to show here in St. Petersburg – this state went for the opposition – we have to show the world that we know how to protect our democracy and we’re not going to let it slip away.”
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points in Florida on November 8.
Marianny De Leon is a twentysomething activist and staffer with Planned Parenthood in Tampa. She’ll be participating in a similar rally in Tallahassee on Saturday (there are protests being held up and down the state on both Friday and Saturday)
“We do have a lot of uncertainty ahead of us, but this march is going to be a unified women’s movement,” she says. “We strived very hard to be as intersectional as possible and we really want to make sure that women have access to the health care that they need. We need to make sure that people who are low-income, people who don’t speak English, we just want to ensure that everybody has the same rights.”
There have been media reports this week that some women who are not pro-choice but considers themselves feminists have been banned from the major protest in D.C. this Saturday. But organizers for the rally in St. Petersburg say there’s no litmus test to participate.
“We’re proud that’s a part of our platform,” says organizer Amy Weintraub regarding the support for abortion rights. “But we can also find plenty of other things that we would agree with everyone, and that’s going to be the key to this social change movement.
“When we engage with people in our community who may have voted differently than we did during the election, we’ve got to find 51 percent that we agree on, ” Weintraub added, “and once we do, we’ll be able to talk with them, educate and potentially change their vote next time around.”
After Georgia Democratic Representative John Lewis announced last weekend that he would not attend the inauguration, saying he didn’t believe believe Trump was a “legitimate” president, dozens of his colleagues now say they won’t attend on Friday, including Florida Democrats Alcee Hastings and Darren Soto. Benton said she understood why congressional Democrats would choose to attend the ceremony, but said she at least hoped they would wear black at the event.
You can get more information on Saturday’s event by going to the Facebook page. Those who do choose to attend should note that some local meteorologists have predicted that there could be a chance of rain.