On June 24, I woke up and had less rights than my mom when she was growing up. Like Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War”, the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court snapped its fingers and erased half the country’s reproductive rights.
By Sophia Pu
Like so many other people with reproductive organs, I was incredulous, furious, and scared. When my friend and rally buddy, Emi Naito, and I looked for upcoming protests, there were none near us. We knew it wasn’t for a lack of passion in the San Gabriel Valley, so we thought, “why not organize one ourselves?” Emi and I founded our organization, Activists Coming Together, in 2020, and we used our platform to put together the 626 March and Rally for Reproductive Rights.
Feisty grandmas and others
After three weeks of planning and spreading the word, over 100 people of all ages and backgrounds came to the event. It was held on Saturday, July 16, and we gathered at Alhambra City Hall at 10:00 am. First to arrive were feisty grandmas who likely fought for the Roe v. Wade decision and were here to fight again. Then trickled in my friends and classmates, who were finding their voices and brought their families. Soon, teachers, city councilmembers, and church clergy were arriving and mingling. Everyone carried signs with sayings like “My heart, my hips, my body, my choice”, “abortion is a hard choice but it’s my choice”, “abort the court”, and “abortion is healthcare”. We provided water, masks, blank posters, and swag donated by Planned Parenthood of Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley.
Everyone poured their hearts and souls into chanting
The most beautiful thing about a rally in your own community is that you know and care about the people around you. When you call, it’s your neighbors who respond, and when you need to slow down or pause for water, everyone does so together. Marching along Main Street was a uniting experience; everyone poured their hearts and souls into chanting, and cars honked supportively as we passed. One person circled around three times in their Ford to honk, and another bounced their lowrider for us. A Jack in the Box employee came out to wave enthusiastically, and others cheered as we went by.
“Bans off! Our bodies!”
As the crowd approached the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, where the march would end and the rally would begin, we noticed counterprotesters with anti-abortion signs. People were crying as everyone chanted “Bans off! Our bodies!” to overpower the other side’s bullhorns. Of all our chants, that one was most powerful. As our speakers addressed the crowd, a wall of rally members linked together to barricade against the other protesters.
We will not go back
Our first speaker was Congresswoman Judy Chu, who reminded us that “we will not go back”. We heard from Alhambra and San Gabriel councilmembers, the district Assemblyman, and local activists. They encouraged us to vote to make abortion a California constitutional right, but warned us that we had to be in this movement for the long haul. Emylou Vergel De Dios, co-founder and organizer for Change West Covina, wrote a poem called “Red”, reciting, “Red / running through the veins of my body / more valuable / than any body’s”.
As we wrapped up the rally, one thing was clear: this fight is not over. Yet, equally clear was the infectious hope that spread in the crowd. There are still battles that can be won on local levels. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Change is possible, one conversation at a time.
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