About 500 people protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump as president converged Friday on the state Capitol after marching along various routes through Sacramento.
The march was peaceful, with police controlling traffic and closing downtown intersections to accommodate the marchers. The protest was a melting pot of Sacramento-area activists, from socialists to members of the local Black Lives Matter movement.
Disability rights activist and former Sacramento mayoral candidate Russell Rawlings was among the speakers on the west steps of the Capitol. He noted that Sacramento is a “sanctuary city” – meaning it does not assist federal authorities in deporting undocumented immigrants – and that Trump has threatened to strip such cities of federal support.
“We’re going to have a lot of work ahead of us,” Rawlings said. “We need to build the resistance now.”
Four groups of marchers came together at the Capitol after starting from points in Oak Park, Land Park, West Sacramento and North Sacramento.
One group, numbering about 100 people, started marching at Sacramento City College. About 1 p.m., they passed C.K. McClatchy High School with chants of, “Join us, join us.”
About two dozen students ran out of the school and joined the march, blocking traffic on Freeport Boulevard. Roughly 30 students from Sacramento Charter High School joined a separate march that started in Oak Park’s McClatchy Park. The two groups met at the corner of Broadway and 21st Street, forming a mass of 200 protesters.
School district officials said there had been no reports of students leaving the McClatchy High School campus, but the fleeing students were witnessed by a Sacramento Bee reporter. “The population has been stable during the day,” said Maria Lopez, Sacramento City Unified spokeswoman.
McClatchy teacher Lori Jablonski said about 25 students joined the protesters.
“We ran to the windows when we heard the rally folks come by,” she said. “Most of my students had no idea this was happening.”
Sacramento’s peaceful march was in contrast to violent protests in Washington, D.C., where more than 200 people were arrested during a demonstration after Trump’s inauguration. A larger march – the Women’s March – is planned for Saturday in Sacramento and in cities around the nation.
Marchers descending on the Capitol on Friday chanted, “Stand up, fight back,” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.” They were escorted by Sacramento police and California Highway Patrol officers, who kept their distance. Curious shoppers along Broadway and workers from downtown state office buildings stood on the sidewalk and photographed the marchers with cellphones.
The exposure wasn’t entirely welcome by all participants. One young man walking with the group passed out “don't snitch” fliers and tried to grab cellphones from people documenting the march.
Marchers carried signs, megaphones and a battery-powered PA system in a wheelchair to make their voices heard as they walked.
Cosumnes River College student Lola Chase was among the marchers walking from Sacramento City College to the Capitol.
“I refuse to let hatred become the norm,” said Chase, 18. “Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and sexism were not OK before and they’re not OK now.”
Keyan Bliss, an East Sacramento activist, said it was “rich” that Republicans are asking those opposed to Trump to “get over it.”
“I’m here to say he’s not getting an inch, he is not my president,” Bliss said as around 40 people gathered at McClatchy Park before their 3.2-mile march to the Capitol.