Almost 600 people marched in Bishop, and a contingent marched (and sledded) in June Lake
On Saturday, January 21, nearly 600 people gathered at Bishop City Park to participate in the Eastern Sierra Women’s March. Jeff Griffiths, Inyo County Supervisor for District 2, which includes parts of the City of Bishop, counted 580 people at the march.
Participants marched down Main Street from City Park to City Hall. There were kids, babies, young people, and old people. Members of the Bishop and Big Pine Paiute Tribes were present. Most participants interviewed lived in Bishop or Mammoth Lakes, but there were people from many communities in the Eastern Sierra.
The community of June Lake also held its own march, which saw about a dozen protestors come out, pulling kids in sleds on the snowy streets.
“We asked how many people it would take to make a ‘march,’ and we decided if fifteen people showed up, it would be a real march,” said Andi Stewart, speaking to a crowd that far surpassed her expectations.
According to organizer and lifelong Bishop local Shawn Louth, the march in Bishop, like the Women’s March on Washington, was intended to be non-partisan. An excerpt from the Women’s March on Washington’s mission statement read, “The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Some bystanders did not take the march as a non-partisan demonstration. Several cars rolled down their windows to yell at marchers, shouting, “Losers!” “Trump Rules!” and “Quit Whining!” Still others honked in solidarity, cheered, or stopped to take photos.
One Bishop resident who refused to be named watched the protest while on break at Joseph’s Bi-Rite Market. He thought it was simply a protest of Trump’s election, and said, “I didn’t cry when Obama won. I went with it. And I’m a veteran and my deductible’s tripled, so these guys, twenty-year-old grown men who are perfectly healthy and don’t want to work, I gotta pay for their health care? That’s wrong.” His female co-worker laughed and said, “Go girls! that’s all I have to say.”
The signs carried by protesters were diverse. One said “Nyet Trump!”
Kimberly and Benjamin Mitchell marched with their toddler, June, who spent most of the march on her dad’s back. “I am here to support my daughter and my wife’s rights,” said Benjamin. “We believe in a world where our daughter can grow up and not have to worry about women’s rights,” said Kimberly. Both parents said they felt that Eastern Sierra Communities are deeply divided about the outcome of Presidential election.
Another spectator who called himself “E” watched the march from Rusty’s Saloon on Main Street. He said he didn’t like Trump, but that he thought the protesters should give the new president a 150-day grace period before condemning him. When asked what he took away from the march, he said, “I really didn’t take anything away because there were so many different things. They weren’t together.”
One Main Street business owner said the march was an embarrassment. “There were customers in my store who said, ‘What’s the matter with Bishop?’” He said visitors interpreted the protestors’ signs as a statement about the beliefs of the whole community. When asked if he would have supported a march for women’s rights, he said, “Of course! Latinos, the Native Americans, women, these are our community.” He said he didn’t believe the march would change anything, but it harmed hard working people whose businesses are good for the community.