Words. Johnsen Del Rosario
Photos. Jarrett Ramones.
FRESNO, Calif. — When Micaela Cisneros-Nuñez woke up last Monday and saw that her home city was not on the growing list of cities set to hold “sister” marches in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, she decided to do something about it.
“I realized there wasn’t [a Women’s March] happening in Fresno,” Cisneros-Nuñez, 18, said. “I really wanted to participate and I wouldn’t have been able to travel, so I decided to plan one myself.”
Marches were held in over 600 cities across the country and world last Saturday, the day after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as 45th President of the United States. According to the event website, a guiding principal of the event was “Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability.”
Thanks to Cisneros-Nuñez, a pre-law political science major at Fresno State who single-handedly organized the march in Fresno, more Central Valley residents were able to participate in the day of global action. Merced and Visalia also saw marches, although neither reached the numbers that gathered in Fresno.
Cisneros-Nuñez said she used the official Women’s March website and Facebook to set up Fresno’s march. After that, it was about her finding other people to march with her.
“I just started emailing a host of different liberal organizations in the area which is how I got in contact with Peace Fresno’s group and [we] coordinated the events together,” she said. “I know it did spread a lot through Facebook, but we had close to 2,000 people in attendance – more than Facebook reflected – and I spoke to a lot of people who heard through friends only the night before.”
Nearly 2,000 people gathered on the corner of Blackstone and Nees Avenues to rally and then march in support of women’s rights and in protest of the newly inaugurated President.
“This [was] a very nonviolent protest…against injustice, discrimination and oppression that many segments of our community and society have experienced,” said Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus of conflict and peace studies at Fresno State.
Dr. Kapoor noted that icons such as Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez have set the example of nonviolence protest through history.
The march began at 2 p.m. and was scheduled to last until 4 p.m., but many participants stayed well into the early evening. Demonstrators held signs in support of women, immigrants and other groups as they made their way down Blackstone Avenue.
Cisneros-Nuñez said she did not expect the huge turnout. Before the march, the event page on Facebook showed only 1,000 interested users.
“Having this many people show up gives me a lot of hope for the future of our nation,” Cisneros-Nuñez said.
Lucy Saephan, 23, said she joined the march for herself and for her son.
“I have to raise him with Trump as president and that scares me,” she said.
Elliot Escobar, 35, said he attended the march to show his support for all women.
“It’s important to be out here and be empowered and inspired to move forward, especially these next four years,” he said.
More than a thousand marchers made their way on the sidewalks, waiting to use crosswalks and allowing cars to pass them.
Dr. Kapoor, who also helped organize the Martin Luther King Jr. march in Fresno that happened earlier this month, said he hopes to see more nonviolent protests in Fresno during the Trump administration.
“If we keep doing it like this, there will be more support because people are sick and tired of violence,” he said. “People are sick and tired of hate. They want more positivity. This is a very positive form of expression.”
Cisneros-Nuñez left the march she organized with a message for the future.
“Love those around you,” the organizer said. “Love your family. Love the people that are being spiteful and hateful towards you.”