Palo Alto demonstrators promised a new era of activism immediately after President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, Jan. 20 -- lining El Camino Real and gathering outside U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo's downtown office.
Waving placards to the accompaniment of honks from passing motorists, demonstrators said they are gearing up for a long fight if necessary to preserve women's and immigrants' rights, health care programs, the environment and the progressive agenda in general. Angered by the new president's divisive political campaign, many said they did not listen to his inauguration speech, or only caught it fleetingly. They did not want to give coverage of the new president high viewer ratings, they said.
"It feels good to take action. ... We are standing up for our rights and not to lose our rights. We have to show up," said Lynn Huidekoper, a nurse and Bernie Sanders supporter, who has joined the Courage Campaign, an activist organization that works on a coordinated statewide strategy for a progressive state and national agenda. She and about a dozen others showed up with a letter for Eshoo offering their support for her efforts and outlining their agenda.
Karim Poonja, who was also at Eshoo's office, said the Affordable Care Act is his issue. He is leery of claims by Congress that they have a sustainable plan to replace it. Obamacare took two years to put together, and it took much thought, he said.
He considers the health care insurance program one of the greatest acts of President Barack Obama's tenure, even if it is imperfect.
"A lot of people are thinking that because of him I'm alive, including people in red states whose congresspeople are voting against it," Poonja said.
Peg Carlson-Bowen, who is part of Silicon Valley Courageous Resistance, said her 25-year-old daughter, Vera Carlson-Bowen, was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer and relied on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide health care during her illness.
"Without ACA she would have died in incredible pain," she said. Her daughter did die, but she was able to get hospice care to prevent suffering. She said she couldn't imagine going through that experience without the care her daughter received.
Hundreds of people turned out in a downpour along El Camino Real at noon as part of a demonstration stretching from San Francisco to San Jose. Protesters said they are focusing on specific laws the Trump administration and Republican members of Congress are expected to dismantle.
Terrie McDonald showed up in her pink Statue of Liberty crown with a pink sign and T-shirt to support Planned Parenthood and health care access in general. Her friend, Meg Brosnan, was focusing on issues of equality, environmental protection and keeping public legislators accountable to ethics.
Some demonstrators said they are tired of people bashing each other.
Former Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd did listen to Trump's inauguration speech. Trump's tone echoed his themes of the campaign, but he didn't provide any insight, she said.
"It was not very visionary for me; it left me feeling a little bit demoralized. He bashed everyone (in government) who came before him," she said.
She also took issue with his continued portrayal of a dismal America of gangs, crime and joblessness. The country has made strides since the 2008 economic crisis, but Trump did not acknowledge those accomplishments in his speech.
"I do believe when you are elected you are supposed to be creating a policy that allows people to find themselves and bring themselves up," she said.
Others said that even though they are concerned about the trajectory of the nation under Trump, they don't side with people who say he is "Not My President."
"He is our president," said Donna Aronson, who showed up at Eshoo's office.
"We have to be very careful not to be hostile and angry. We have to be open," she said.
"The issue is wait and see what happens, just like with President Obama. To judge someone upfront is unfair. The American people should give Trump a chance," he said.
But both said the way forward is by putting President Obama's call to action in place, including supporting and working with lawmakers who have been elected as advocates for their agenda.
Eshoo issued a statement on Thursday regarding her decision to attend the inauguration, despite the boycott by some Democratic lawmakers.
“I'm attending the inauguration not to celebrate who is taking the oath, but to live up to mine. And by doing so, I hope to set a good example for all I'm privileged to represent,” she wrote.
Poonja said he will look to Eshoo in the future.
"It's important as someone who has been part of Washington, D.C., all of her life to say we support her with all of her efforts and to let her know we will be here for whatever fight is ahead," he said.
Visit the Weeky's Facebook page for more photos from Friday's demonstrations.