Scott Ball / Rivard Report
The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president is drawing San Antonians to Washington, both those eager to celebrate the occasion and those planning to march in protest.
Bexar County GOP Chairman Robert Stovall said he and his vice chair, Anna Maria Farias, are attending several inaugural festivities, including the Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball planned for the Texas Republican delegation the night before the Jan. 20 inauguration. Stovall said he expects other state GOP leaders such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler to attend the inauguration as well.
“Texas played a huge part in the strike force that was sent around the country (in support of Trump),” Stovall said. “So it’s been very well encouraged by the incoming administration that they’d like to see a lot of attendees from Texas.”
Meanwhile, nearly three dozen local residents are planning to travel by bus to the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington, which takes place the day after the inauguration and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people protesting Trump’s rhetoric against women, minorities, and other disenfranchised groups during the campaign. Such discourse has “insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us,” the national march’s website states.
Marissa Bennett, who is based in San Antonio and heads up business development for VCOM Digital, is helping lead Texas’ organizing efforts for the march, recruiting participants for a three-day bus trip from San Antonio to D.C. So far, Bennett told the Rivard Report, 34 local residents plan to travel to Washington for the march.
“It’s people from such a variety of (backgrounds), from grandmothers to college kids to LGBT people (to people) who have marched before,” Bennett said. “We’re hoping that the bus ride itself is going to also be something very valuable for the people going on it.”
The march’s leadership finally secured a permit from NPS in late December that will allow 200,000 people to gather at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW near the Capitol. The march route has not been publicized for security reasons, according to organizers.
The Women’s March on Washington’s Facebook page reports 165,000 people attending and another 244,000 “interested.” Organizers and supporters – which include male and female activists, celebrities, and more than 70 national organizations – want to use the platform to assert that women’s rights are human rights.
A related Women’s March on Austin is scheduled for the same day as the national event starting at noon at the Texas State Capitol. Tens of thousands of protesters, including a large number of San Antonians, are expected to participate in the Austin march; the event’s Facebook page states that 14,000 people are going, and 25,000 are “interested.”
“This is a movement and a message to the incoming administration that we are a large and loud number who stand in support of the rights of all marginalized communities,” said Austin march organizer Melissa Fiero.
The Austin march is one of dozens of “sister marches” happening in cities across the country and world, each occurring on Jan. 21.
In Washington, officials in charge of inauguration security are bracing for potential confrontations between groups still at odds with each other over their support or vehement disapproval of the president-elect. Security costs alone are expected to surpass $100 million, according to the New York Times. Events will begin with the welcome concert at the National Mall on Jan. 19 and move into the following week with both public and private festivities celebrating Trump’s inauguration.
For more information and background on the day’s events, click here.
National Park Service (NPS) officials told the New York Times that the number of applications for demonstration permits on Inauguration Day or during that weekend each election cycle usually is around four or five. This year, it’s 20.
Bikers for Trump, a national pro-Trump group of motorcyclists, said it received the “only pro-Trump permit issued” for the inauguration and anticipates thousands to roll into D.C. to show their support, according to the group’s Facebook page. Bikers for Trump leadership did not return a request for comment before publication deadline.
Women’s March on Washington officials last month announced partnerships with Planned Parenthood, feminist Gloria Steinem, and musician and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. Organizers for both the Austin and Washington marches and rallies are still finalizing a lineup of speakers and musical performers for events.
“We will have people from all walks of life who represent the different communities that are the most at risk under this administration, and public servants who are active in supporting and promoting human rights,” said Fiero, adding that the marches are intended to be bipartisan.
Stovall said he does not know of any GOP leaders participating in the Women’s March in D.C. or Austin, but for him, the weekend isn’t about that.
“We are just going up there to have a great celebration of the transformation of this country to a better place, and (we) look toward the future of this country instead of looking backward,” he said.
While the Women’s March on Washington and similar demonstrations across the country are planned for just one day out of the year, Fiero said the larger effort of promoting diversity and equality, and safeguarding civil rights will continue even after the last protester leaves.
“We will continue to find ways to engage these people,” she said, “and affect policy and prevent stepbacks in the rights that people have earned in our country.”