Early Friday evening, after hearing the news, people from around the East Bay did what they often do in troubled times: they made their way to Frank Ogawa Plaza. At five o’clock, they numbered around 50. By six, they were a few hundred, spilling from the stadium seats in front of City Hall and nodding along to speeches. They came from North Berkeley, San Leandro, Union City, Uptown. Some brought their children. Some dressed in head-to-toe black. Some carried signs saying things like “Welcome to Gilead” and “Fuck Off Scrotus.”
We spoke to a number of protesters about why they showed up, what the Supreme Court’s decision means for them and people they care about, and what they hope—or fear—might happen next.
Faith Silva (she/they), 38, Uptown Oakland
Silva used to volunteer at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in San Diego. “This is actually my first rally since pre-pandemic, so it’s just nice to be out here and see people who have shared values,” she said. She’s concerned about other cases mentioned by Justice Clarence Thomas, like rights to same-sex marriage and contraception.
Courtney McCausland (she/her), 30, Union City
The local law professor says this week’s ruling will impact how she teaches. “It’s kind of hard for me to imagine going into the classroom and saying to my students that our institutions are sound and that the rule of law is stable,” she said. She’s also concerned about other rights, like same-sex marriage and access to contraception. “I think when we have the opportunity to show up, we have to.”
Manuela Delnevo (she/her), 32, Northwest Berkeley
Delnevo, who’s from Colombia, wore green to show solidarity with the abortion-access movement in Latin America. Her shirt read “Everyone loves someone who had an abortion.”
She wants reasons to feel realistically hopeful. “We need a stronger worker movement that puts the needs of marginalized communities at the center when we’re demanding abortion rights and reproductive rights,” she said.
She feels the needs of Black, Indigenous and other people of color should be at the center of that fight. “I hope that this terrible moment that we’re living through is going to be the match-lighting that we need.”
Shanelle Jones (they/them), 28, Uptown Oakland
Jones is pregnant. “I’m worried about the life of my future child if they’re a girl,” they said. They’re also worried about the future of their existing child, who is trans and has a uterus.
“It’s going to affect Black women, first and foremost, and trans people, because it always affects our communities first and it always hits us the hardest,” they said. “The Black maternal mortality rate is already dismal in America, and forcing Black women to have babies that are not going to be taken care of—it’s unimaginable.”
Yvanna Ioane (she/her), 32, San Leandro
“There was no way I was going to miss out on an opportunity to be surrounded by people who all feel the same,” said Ioane. “I think it was just important to be in solidarity with the rest of the women and men of all colors and races and nationalities.”
Susan Reed (she/her), 53, West Oakland
Susan Reed attended the Oakland protest with her family, including her 14-year-old daughter. “She’s the one who has to deal with the outcomes of these decisions,” said Reed.
“When I came out in ‘96,” Reed said, “there was no gay marriage. There were no gay rights…We were on the shoulders of the people who came before, who fought and died for the rights to just be out in the world.” Now, she said, she worries that “any of these rights can be taken away at any time.”