■ By Matt McPherson / Columnist
Across the nation and throughout the world, women, men, and children alike marched in solidarity on Saturday, Jan. 21 in an effort to express their allegiance to protect and preserve civil rights throughout the land. The widespread march and demonstration is an organized cause to bring attention to basic equal rights, equal pay, and a safeguarding of the Affordable Care Act. In downtown Hemet the movement was in full force drawing participants from Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and even Hawaii.
Democrats of Hemet-San Jacinto marched and rallied in solidarity in association with the Washington Women’s March. Starting at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 11 a.m., the group began their procession at the Democratic Headquarters located at 530-1/2 E. Florida Ave. in Hemet and made their way west toward State Street and Florida Avenue, where they circled back in front of the Hemet Museum, the Hemet Historic Santa Fe Depot and Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro. The group of more than 100 participants carried signs, held hands, and carried their message throughout downtown without a hint of violence, rudeness or disruption of traffic.
The Hemet-San Jacinto Sister March was just a fraction of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other movements and demonstrations across the nation and throughout the world. They joined neighboring cities Riverside, Perris and Palm Springs in a march that invoked a movement demanding equality for everyone.
In front of Hemet City Hall, Marie McDonald, president of the Hemet-San Jacinto Democrats, addressed the large crowd while passing cars honked in appreciation.
“This march is the first step toward unifying our communities to effective change from the grassroots level up,” said McDonald. “We will not rest until women have full equality under the law.”
Maria Lopez, a local hero and professor at Mt. San Jacinto College, was honored by the Democrats of Hemet-San Jacinto. Lopez marched for women’s rights with activist Cesar Chavez and was recognized for her work on sexual assault among women and farm workers. She presented her work at the World’s Conference on Women in China.
Community organizer William Seville explained the group wanted to make sure we preserve and protect everyone’s civil rights.
“This demonstrates how we feel here in the valley about saving the ACA, and equal pay in the workplace,” said Seville. “This includes not just women, but everybody, and ensures our rights are protected going forward in a Trump administration. Especially our undocumented immigrants, who are here to pursue equal protection of their rights.”
Norberto Gonzalez, Democrats of Hemet-San Jacinto vice president said, “We the people deserve dignity, respect, and equality from all levels of our society that includes the highest office. We come to form a more perfect union and that takes work. I’m sure we will march again in the near future”
McDonald says she was very impressed with the comments she heard coming from newscasters on the quality of the march throughout the nation. She relayed a solid message she found uplifting.
“This march is typical of what we want to see in a president–respectful, informed and united. We feel a piece of our democracy has been taken away,” said McDonald. “We wanted to bring people together who are anxious to have their feelings known. Individuals who are concerned about losing their Obama Care [health insurance] and feel their Social Security benefits may be threatened. We need to be out on the street and voice our agreement with the sentiment of the public, so they don’t feel like they’re alone and they can express their opinion.”