Protestors Denounce Defunding at LA’s March for Science
On Saturday, April 23, hundreds of scientists and activists gathered in cities nationwide to show their support for fact-based research and environmental protection.
These protests are partly in response to President Trump’s proposed “America First” budget plan which slashes funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and NASA.
The March for Science, including the one here in LA, comes on the 47th annual Earth Day. An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 demonstrators packed Pershing Square for the local protest around 11AM, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Led by a pair of massive electric Hummers, the crowd of thousands marched to the steps of City Hall, chanting along the way “Money for science and education! Not for wars and climate alteration!”
As the protest reached City Hall, several guest speakers took to the podium, including Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA and a professor at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
Another key speaker, Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility in Los Angeles, told the crowd, “Today the Cold War is over and the nuclear threat is not.”
Organizers of the protest say their goal is to stand against the defunding of scientific research, while highlighting the role it plays in improving health care, the environment, and the economy.
Congressman Brad Sherman was also in attendance. “We’ve got to take a stand and explain to Donald Trump that he can’t stop global warming just by emitting an unprecedented volume of hot air,” he told protestors at City Hall.
Although the organizers insist the March for Science is not a partisan event, but an effort to engage both liberals and conservatives alike, a small group of Trump supporters chanted “Lying media!” and “USA!” at the rest of the protestors. One man, dressed as President Trump, danced in the crowd. Their message was explicitly clear. “We just came here to show our support for our President,” said Trump supporter Debbie Liston.
“It’s a protest, it’s for everybody, right? So we’re allowed to be here. Everyone’s here for different reasons, we’re just out here to support Donald Trump because all these events tend to turn into Anti-Trump events, a lot of them,” said David Feiner, another Trump supporter.
Police officers and yellow tape surrounded the pro-Trump counter protestors as they stood outside the LAPD Building. Sergeant James Baker of the LAPD said, “We’re here to make sure that both sides express themselves — that’s a First Amendment right — and it’s grouped so that no physical violence can occur.”
“We’re not here to suppress anyone’s freedom of speech, we’re here to support it and to keep the peace,” Baker said.
“There’s been an anti-science undercurrent for a long time, but it’s really come to a head. And it’s time to listen to the science, it’s time to listen to the facts. Facts are facts, there are no alternative facts. The truth is the truth and science is the best way to understand the truth,” organizer Philip Wheeler said.