Protesters gather by the thousands at Orange County women’s marches
Hundreds of demonstrators listen to guest speakers and musical performances as they participate in the Laguna Beach Woman’s March at Main Beach on Saturday.(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)
These four women were among the hundreds of participants at the Laguna Beach Women’s March at Main Beach on Saturday.(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)
About 1,000 people crowded the area around Main Beach in Laguna Beach on Saturday for a rally intended to let the incoming administration know that women’s voices would be heard.
Meanwhile, thousands of people showed up in Santa Ana for another demonstration protesting the presidency of Donald Trump and promoting human rights.
The events were among the many sister gatherings across the nation and the world held in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington, which reportedly drew hundreds of thousands of people.
In Laguna, traffic seemed unhampered by the crowd. If car horns were heard during the three-hour gathering, which got underway around 10 a.m., the drivers seemed to be indicating support for the protesters.
Demonstrators — men and women of all ages — stood shoulder to shoulder as they carried signs reading “Don’t gut the EPA,” “Love trumps hate” and “Nasty women unite,” a reference to Trump’s “such a nasty woman” comment during the presidential debates with his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
One woman held a sign bearing the image of Vladimir Putin holding a baby, and the baby’s face was that of Trump, suggesting the new president is too quick to side with the Russian leader.
This sentiment was also expressed by Rita Conn, the leader of a group called Let Laguna Vote and the event’s keynote speaker.
She told the crowds at Main Beach in kicking off the event that “our job is to block the agenda of Trump and Putin.”
She also echoed other familiar themes.
“We are a society that values the human soul of every individual,” Conn said. “We value freedom of the press, science, protecting our fragile environment, diversity of all people ... affordable healthcare and quality education.”
Many demonstrators’ signs said much using only artwork, not words.
Newport Beach resident Irene Montoya, 33, printed out an image she saw on Pintrest showing Trump grabbing the Statue of Liberty between the legs.
Referring to the leaked “Access Hollywood” video of Trump boasting about being able to grab women by the genitals because of his star power, Montoya said she felt “disgust.”
“Words mean something, especially when you’re president,” Montoya said.
Many mother-daughter pairs were visible in the Laguna crowd.
“I’m here for my daughter because I don’t want her to fight the same battle my grandmother fought,” Huntington Beach resident Jen Lau said.
Her 7-year-old daughter’s sign at the rally read: “Love defeats hate” on one side and “Girl power” on the other.
At the Johnny Rockets restaurant across the street from Main Beach, Laguna resident Tibor Komoroczy, 57, defended the new president.
“Why don’t people give [Trump] a chance?” Komoroczy asked rhetorically. He said he did not vote for Barack Obama for either of his two terms as president but gave his administration a chance.
“Forcing anyone to pay for healthcare they don’t want is insane.... The priority, in my mind, is to give people jobs,” Komoroczy said. “I think [Trump] loves women. I see his family and they’re good people, and family reflects on you as a father.”
At the rally, Laguna Beach residents and former teachers Linda Simpson, 75, and Ceil Sharman, 77, said kids should not have to see hatred and bigotry during Trump’s presidency.
“If there’s anything Trump has done, it’s making people realize that they need to stand up for themselves,” Simpson said.
Meanwhile, in Santa Ana, people paraded down Fourth Street chanting “Women united will never be defeated” and “This is what democracy looks like” during the four-hour event, which began at 9 a.m.
The demonstrators held signs that read “Build bridges not walls” and “Women stand together.”
Jody Potiker, 56, of Orange carried a Trump piñata on a stick. In one hand the effigy clutched a rainbow flag, signifying LGBT rights.
Potiker said she was marching to “show unhappiness with the ethical and moral character of the president.”
Many women in the crowd wore pink hats, called “pussyhats,” which serve as a visual representation of the women’s rights cause.
While the march was devoted to promoting women’s rights, marchers cited a variety of motivations.
Leland Sisk, 69, of Garden Grove protested because he believes Trump was aided in his election by Russian tampering.
“I don’t think Trump is a legitimate president,” Sisk said. “And I don’t think he cares about one person in this march.”
Sisk, a Vietnam Veteran, said he didn’t respect Trump because he believes he “cheated the system” and should have served during the war.
“While I was in Vietnam getting bombed, [Trump] was back home,” he said.
Diane Cushman Neal, 47, was at the event with her daughter Ashley, 17.
Neal has cystic fibrosis. On Saturday, she was hooked up to an oxygen port and an IV.
“I don’t want my healthcare taken away,” she said, referring to Trump’s vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Ashley said she is marching for her mother, “so she has the healthcare she deserves.”
Kymberly Wilborn, 52, of Dana Point said she took part in the Rodney King protests in Los Angeles in 1992 and has recently participated in Black Lives Matter protests. In 1991, videotape captured King, who was black, being beaten by Los Angeles police officers after a high-speed chase, but the officers were acquitted at trial the next year, sparking violent protests.
At Saturday’s march, Wilborn held a sign that listed the names of prominent activists including Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.
“This march is fabulous. All races, all creeds,” said Wilborn, who is black. “People that are zero months old to 90 years old. Although we didn’t win the election, we made our point today.”