I’ve attended a lot of protests in my life. As a teenager, I documented Black Panther rallies, walked with Food not Bombs, and supported Anti-Racist Action. Joined the NLG in Law School. If you’ve been reading my blog over the years, you know I participate in the annual Immigration Reform demonstration on May Day. I figured today would be no different. Another political rally downtown, this time to support women in the aftermath of a Trump election. I’d first heard projections of 10-20,000. By this morning, numbers of 60-100,000 were rolling in. By the time the sun set, NBC estimates that the Women’s March (in Los Angeles alone) pulled 750,000 protesters.
People are pissed. We’re scared, and we’re getting desperate. Americans feel like they aren’t being heard, and they’re ready to fight. “CHIN UP, FANGS OUT,” reads one of the signs in front of me. I’m here with Mike Shinoda, my wife, and his. It’s 10am on Saturday, and we can’t move. Theoretically, we should be able to make our way into Pershing Square—the start of the march—and, begin to walk to City Hall. But, we are sardined between anxious and excited women (and men!) from all walks of life, all corners of Southern California, ready for change. Wall to wall, corner to corner, there is nowhere to march, because we are the march.
So many people have shown up, that one march splinters into two, into five. Everyone makes the unofficial decision to move in all directions. Protesters double-back and take over alleys, side-streets, and major arteries. The surprising part is most trapped drivers aren’t bummed—they’re honking in support. It is inspiring to see so many people come together, to share these few hours outside of screens and fake news, and connect as warm, loving humans.
We all saw those fat rain drops paint the President’s suit as he opened his mouth on Inauguration Day. As the clouds unzipped over Washington in those first few moments, here in Los Angeles, it was dumping. Yet, today—in a historic California winter where we’re finally climbing out of a drought—we are marching underneath crystal blue skies. We finally get a respite—our sunny day. Think Mother Nature was pissed about the White House website removing the climate change page (Of course, as I’m writing this at night, the storm settles back in. Back to reality!)?
I was reinvigorated today in a way that was reminiscent of my first hardcore moshpit. A glut of community, love, and action, roiling in the belly of my city. So many men showing support. As bad as hombres as we tend to be, on this day, we put on our best for you, women. Kinda funny, as we were driving up Skid Row towards the march, a Black man was talking on the phone with his friend. We overheard him say, “Nah, just a lot of white people down here…” I worried the same. Was this going to be just a Westside Moms convention? We were both proven wrong. There was diversity in today’s march here in Los Angeles, the greatest city in the world for that exact reason. There was intersectional feminism on display, proper representation by the LGBTIQ community, Black Lives Matter, and even my friend Shaney with Keep-A-Breast cancer awareness. There was a guy with a confusing #MAGA banner over his head, attracting shouting matches with marchers. Still, the women went high: “You have the right to express a different opinion!” Moving on.
Who knew there was such a Star Wars crossover with Women’s Rights? Not just in regards to Carrie Fisher (RIP), but the Resistance logo was loud and clear this afternoon. Who knew a protest could be so orderly and organized, carrying an unexpected turnout that would’ve buckled under the testosterone of any other? With all the marches I’ve attended, I attribute this smooth hiccup entirely to the attendance and subject matter of women. Just another reason why we need women to be involved IN EVERYTHING.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s WHY I marched today. Post-march, the questions may continue to haunt us, “So, what now? Where do we go from here?” We’ve set the tone, and put them on the defense. Now, it’s time to organize and fight back. Stay informed, meet with neighbors, call your representative. Run for office, build a brand as a platform, use your social media audience to disseminate the right information. We can also now be comforted. When they go low, deceiving the people, denying rights, and in general, being dicks, remember all of us out here today. Remember what you saw, who you rubbed shoulders with, and that conversation you shared with a total stranger. Think about the smiles and the tears, the chants, and the sun. The rivers of men and women flooding the streets, a cacophony softening into one unified voice, fists raised, of all colors. Social media, ironically, does a great job of making you feel isolated and unheard. But, you’re not alone. You never were. In fact, you’re in the majority. You saw this for yourself, and you felt it. You know this now. Now, LET’S GO.