Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa women prepare to protest Trump presidency at Women's March on Washington

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Early on the morning of Nov. 9, Tampa lawyer Jennifer Zumarraga began to cry as Donald Trump's presidential victory sank in, releasing a flood of emotions that were new to her.

The first was fear for the future. The second, an irresistible urge to answer a call to action.

"I was so scared," Zumarraga, 42, recalled more than two months later, tears in her eyes and voice shaking. "I don't just want to talk anymore. I want to do something."

Today, one day after Trump's inauguration, Zumarraga will join an expected 200,000 to 500,000 people in Washington, D.C., who will "do something" that could make history.

Born on a modest Facebook page just hours after the election results, the Women's March on Washington has become a national movement. Approximately 370 cities around the world will hold marches of their own, including St. Petersburg, where more than 17,000 people had registered to attend by Friday.

The Washington, D.C., march could be the largest protest against a president's inauguration in history, beating out those of Richard Nixon in 1973 and George W. Bush in 2001.

"Normally, a person has very limited avenues to participate in the democratic process," said Melissa Armstrong of Tampa, who intends to march in St. Petersburg with friends. "This is just one other way to gather with like-minded individuals to show solidarity as a group, and on a very large scale."

March organizers, who also expect thousands of men to participate, say they will be standing up for the LGBTQ community, minorities, immigrants, the disabled and victims of sexual assault. A full spectrum of organized and grass roots groups, including Planned Parenthood, the Travyon Martin Foundation and Black Girls Rock, will send representatives.

Celebrities expected to attend include Cher, Julianne Moore, Katy Perry and Amy Schumer.

Tampa artist Eileen Goldenberg, 61, recently gathered with friends to talk strategy for the march. Some are bringing their daughters.

"It seems like one more thing gets accepted, then one more, and it's becoming the new normal," Goldenberg said. "We can't just keep acquiescing to that."

Sara Scher, 60, is on the board of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida and will be the third generation of her family to march on Washington. She also marched in 2001's protest against President George W. Bush.

"Everybody who feels that (Trump) is the greatest thing that ever happened to America is going to be there, and they're going to see us," she said. "I want to be at the center of it all."

Media reports indicate the number of protesters at the march could exceed the number of spectators at Trump's inauguration. As of Monday, Washington, D.C., officials had issued three times more bus permits for the march than for the swearing-in. And thousands of capital residents are opening their homes to marchers, many of whom traveled by bus.

"The majority did not vote for Trump," said Taylor Ward, 48, of Tampa, who is going to the march with her 12-year-old daughter, Stella. "I think it seems really important to show on a national scale that we are the majority.''

The Tampa group is also involved in a nationwide movement to knit tens of thousands of pink hats with cat ears, a reference to a 2005 recording in which Trump boasted in vulgar terms about making sexual advances on a woman. Goldenberg says that her late father, a staunch Republican, would never have voted for Trump.

"I'm really getting tired of people saying that we lost and should just put up with it," she said. "I did not feel like this when Bush won. I was disappointed, but I didn't worry for the future of our country."

Zumarraga, who says she has never been politically active until now, agrees.

"This march is getting people like me off the couch," she said. "I don't think I'm going to sit down again, because I'm so angry."

Contact Libby Baldwin at [email protected] Follow her at @LibBaldwin

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