Hundreds gathered in St. PetersburgSunday night to send a message to elected officials.
Their message: A majority of the people do not support the policies and rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump. And, the people want their local and nationally elected officials to oppose those policies — with an eye to Congressional elections in two years and the next presidential election in four years.
“We’re watching,” St. Petersburg resident Elizabeth Pomeroy said. “We’re not going to lay down as he basically destroys the civil rights that so many people have worked so hard to obtain.”
Deborah Anderson, a self-described political activist from St. Pete, handed out safety pins to all who wanted them. The safety pin is a symbol, she said, of “solidarity to people who are being targeted.”
She was referring to immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans, three groups that were on the whipping post for much campaign rhetoric from the Trump camp.
“We have got to stop Trump from putting his agenda forward,” Anderson said. “We’re not going to let the gains [President Barack] Obama did and his legacy of the last eight years be rolled back.”
She added the protests and unity among those opposing Trump’s policies “will send a message to other politicians that there is a strong group of people who are like, ‘Hell, no!’”
Pomeroy and Anderson were speaking before the first of the marches from Demens Landing to Williams Park and back again. An estimated 800 to 1,000 people joined the march. Among the crowd were people of all ages, including a few children, and multiple ethnicities. Some marchers were on crutches.
They were carrying signs with messages such as “Baby boomers against Trump/We’ve been here before,” apparently a reference to the civil rights marches of the 1960s and Vietnam era; “Got $ for war but can’t feed the poor;” and “Love trumps hate.”
As they marched, they chanted slogans: “Not our president. Not our president;” “The people united will never be divided;” “The people united will never be defeated;” and “Power to the people.” A drum occasionally thumped out a four-beat rhythm.
While some marchers reported a friendly reception by those who saw them pass, others said some observers made obscene hand gestures and screamed things such as “Black lives don’t matter.” At one point, before they left Demens Landing, a man rode by on a bicycle yelling, “You goddam retards! You’re going to blow it up!”
When they returned from the march, speakers exhorted them to stay united and keep up the fight.
The second march of the night began a little more than an hour after the first ended. Marchers — mostly from the LGBT community — gathered at Enigma bar and lounge in the Edge District on Central Avenue. This march was smaller than the first but just as vocal with marchers shouting slogans as they made their way east on Central: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” and “Please reject the president-elect.”
Shortly before they left, a man got into a dispute with one of the marchers. A woman got in between them. And police, who were there to help with traffic control, sent the man away with no incident.