M. Terry / SFVS

Sylvia de la Sancha

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Life as Americans with President Trump as our nation’s leader  has been likened to entering the unknown –the “Twilight Zone.”   These are uncharted waters. Never before have we had a “tweeting President,”  who comes unfiltered, easily unraveled and  is quick to insult when he is challenged or criticized for his erratic behavior and outrageous statements.  Ironically, his victory has galvanized  more Americans now more than ever to set aside their differences and come together in unison to protest.  Never before in our nation’s history has their been such widespread protest of an elected President prior to him even coming into office with an approval rating of only 40 percent.  

Trump has promised big changes for this country, but has not explained with any clarity how he plans to replace health care coverage for the 20 million people who currently receive it under the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare, he still vows to build a nearly 2,000 mile wall at the U.S. Mexico border and has flip flopped on how it will be paid for, he’s called climate change a hoax, refusing to address this serious issue and has suggested banning entire religious groups from entering the country.  He is described as a man who has polarized the nation by his neglect in calling out those self proclaimed racists who are his supporters. His derogatory comments about Mexicans have had a serious international ripple effect, and has caused the peso to devalue. Immigrant rights groups in the valley and L.A have held protests since his election and vow their protests will continue throughout his Presidency.   

Women Set to March in LA — and the Nation 

Women are planning marches in cities across the country — including Los Angeles — to send a message to the new administration that their rights matter and they are ready to defend them.

San Fernando Valley resident Heather Wills will be one of those marching in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 21. She expects thousands of women — and men— will join her as she counterattacks what she categorizes as “a war” on women’s rights.

“There’s a lot of us. We’re not happy with the way things are going and we want everyone to be counted. We aren’t really going to stand for this type of treatment,” said Wills, 47, a store manager from Studio City.

Her issues with the incoming Trump Administration include the Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood (which offers family planning and abortion services to women), and the effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

“It’s a huge kind of bomb,” Wills said of those two things becoming a reality.

“If you don’t have healthcare or can’t even try to get coverage or are forced to bear children that you might not want, how can you get a fair shot at anything?”

The march is so important to Wills that she’s making it a family event.

Her 69-year-old mother Susan is coming down to march as well as her sister Sara West who, Wills said, lives in “Republican country” up in Northern California.

Wills is also bringing her 20-year-old daughter Courtney Mitchell.

“I’m hoping a fair amount of men show up as well, so we can send the message ‘don’t take away our rights, our healthcare, our voice.’ We vote and are organized, and please see how many of us there are here,” she said, adding, “we’re not going to sit idly by and see our future taken away.”

The LA March Starts At Pershing Square

The Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles begins at 9 a.m. at Pershing Square.

Organizers Emiliana Guereca and Deena Katz say the event will be a “positive, unifying action” not only for women but for all who seek women’s rights, human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.

“‘Women’s March – Los Angeles’ is about having our voices heard, activating our community and unifying our community. Women’s rights are human rights,” Guereca said.

“In a time when we are all wondering what we can do, we can do this…let them hear our voice!” Katz said.

Even though Trump has nominated four women for his cabinet — Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary; Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary; Linda McMahon, Small Business Administration, and Nikki Haley as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. — marchers were angered by Trump’s comments and behavior towards women during the campaign.

But while Trump seemed impervious to criticism during the campaign, the participants think the marches could make a difference.

“It will be a show of peaceful force, showing that people do care about this. Sometimes politicians might think that they can ram it through, but this is important to a lot of us,” said Wills, who admits she’s never been really active politically but always votes.

“I would wish that the Republicans in power would take another look and really look at the damage they would be causing in attacking Planned Parenthood, and back down on this war on healthcare service. All it does is help disadvantaged women get healthy,” Wills said.

Concern For The “Marginalized”

That is also the sentiment of Sylvia de la Sancha, another participant.

“I’m making a statement to our President and his Administration that I’m watching, I’m observing what he’s doing with respect to the marginalized,” said Sancha, who lives in Santa Monica.

“We’re concerned about the rights of LGBT, women, and minorities that I fear are at stake with this impending presidency. I worry that those who are marginalized won’t be heard and their rights will be lessened and even dismissed.”

Apart from the worry about a dismantling of Roe vs. Wade, the 56-year-old is also concerned about the availability of guns and gun safety.

“According to the Brady Campaign, there are close to 1.7 million children who live in households where guns are not locked,” Sancha said, noting that guns are also involved in domestic violence murders and other forms of violence.

This is an issue that is close to her heart.

“My mother was murdered by a significant other with a gun,” she said, without going into further detail.

Sancha is the mother of a grown daughter. She said she is marching for her daughter and two grandchildren (both girls).

“This message for me is to let him (Trump) know that we will not remain silent. We are not sitting home and sulking and ranting. We have done that and we will continue to do that, but this Saturday is a day of peaceful protest to empower ourselves — those who feel they have not been listened to and a man we did not vote for,” Sancha said.

“They can’t ignore us. The numbers are going to be too great to just dismiss us,” she said, emphatically.

Whether hundreds or thousands attend the marches, Sancha insisted the message she and her friends are sending is “we’re not going away and let’s work together.”

“Women’s March – Los Angeles” takes place on Saturday, Jan. 21, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., in downtown Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.womensmarchla.org.