For the third time in three days, San Francisco protesters took to the streets and rallied against the president-elect, Donald Trump, this time in a student-led march that went from the Mission District to City Hall. It was the second student protest this week, following a city-wide walk-out on Thursday that saw thousands flock to the streets.
Teens and twenty-somethings from San Francisco high schools and City College gathered at 24th and Mission streets Friday at 1:30 p.m. to “hold space,” they said, while they waited for their numbers to grow. Within a half hour, their ranks had swelled from the few dozen originally at the plaza to more than 150 before they began moving down Mission Street towards downtown.
Mikayla Perieff, a 17-year-old senior at Balboa High, said she helped organize the march using social media and her contacts. She said she was at Thursday’s student protest and wanted to build on that momentum by including those who may have been unable to skip class and walk-out with their peers.
“I just wanted a continuation of the protest from yesterday,” she said, adding that Veterans Day was a good opportunity because it was a school holiday.
Perieff was also upset that voters rejected Proposition F, a local ballot measure that which have given 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in municipal elections. Marching, she said, was one of the few avenues of political expression left for young people.
Violeta Vasquez, a 19-year-old City College student who born and raised in San Francisco, helped spread the word about the protest after being contacted by Perieff. She told the mostly female group gathered at 24th and Mission streets that Trump’s sexist comments would not stand.
“Young women, we’re not gonna sit here and be objectified by this punk-ass president.”
Another City College student and organizer of the protest, Nikki Hatfield, added, “This is the only way for young people to get organized. A lot of us couldn’t vote. This is your way of getting your voice heard.”
Later Vazquez said people in California now had an obligation to “enlighten the states who voted for Trump”
As the march moved down Mission Street, protesters kept to the sidewalks, in accordance with an agreement they made with police to not block traffic. At 16th Street, however, they streamed into the street and headed town to City Hall, leaving only the southbound lane clear. “Pussy grabs back!” they chanted, repeating a slogan made popular in the last few days. “We reject the president-elect!”
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 11, 2016
The 150 or so marchers went down Mission Street to South Van Ness Avenue and onto City Hall escorted by dozens of police officers walking alongside or driving motorcycles to clear the road.
For some of the students, the election of Trump was a personal affront.
Sophie a 16-year-old from Oceana High in Pacifica, said, “I’m worried about my reproductive health, I’m worried about queer rights. I have lesbian parents who have already been through that shit.” The implication was clear — her parents did not need more homophobia under Trump.
Able Christian, 30, said he preferred being in a crowd. “I couldn’t sit with all my fear and grief by myself.” He too is worried about gay rights, specifically about same sex marriage being revoked.
Update, 3:25 p.m.
The protesters marched up Van Ness Avenue on their way to City Hall.
Nick Carr, 53, marched with his two daughters, ages 5 and 12, and god-daughter, who is 16. He works at the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency.
Carr said he had been disappointed by many elections but had “never seen so many tears” as after this one. “Reagan seems like a humanist. It’s hard to imagine we’d be able to see someone who makes George W. Bush look good.”
To him, the only silver lining was that a movement would build to push the needle of national politics back towards the left. Watching the march full of young people, he said, gives him hope.
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 11, 2016
Around 2:40 p.m., the march arrived at City Hall. Vasquez, pushing an amplifier and carrying a microphone, stepped in front of the barricaded City Hall steps.
“First things first: Fuck Donald Trump!” she said, to loud cheers and applause. She turned toward City Hall and said the city’s elected representatives have a responsibility to push back against Trump.
“We need to make sure they hear us,” Vasquez said to the crowd.
Hatfield then took the microphone and again brought up the defeat of Proposition F, the local initiative that would have given 16-year-olds the right to vote. She said she and others were more than educated enough to understand politics and should be given the franchise.
“We’re gonna have to live with it and we can’t even vote for it?” someone in the crowd shouted out.
Christina Velazquez, a 17-year-old senior from Gateway High School, addressed the group about her fears that Trump’s sexist commentary would influence behaviors nationwide, normalizing sexism and rape culture.
“What’s acceptable to say to women, what’s acceptable to do to women – for the next generation, I don’t know,” she said.
Update, 4 p.m.
Outside City Hall, the protesters briefly addressed policing.
Violeta Vazquez thanked the police officers lined up on the City Hall steps guarding the entrance, saying that while there were often tensions with police, today she was glad they were present.
Another protester, however, disagreed.
“These guys are not our friends, they are the armed enforcers of the system,” she said.
Other speakers chimed in with encouragements to the crowd for remaining non-violent, saying behavior like destroying property would only make them look bad.
Officers continued to stand at a distance and watch as speakers turned back to the topic of Donald Trump and occasionally broke into chants.
At 3:40 p.m., after a few more speakers, Vazquez told the crowd to disperse, encouraging those gathered to pick up any garbage before leaving the Civic Center plaza.