In the Bay Area, standing up against far-right ideologies is a family concern.
More than 70 parents and young children met up at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning for “The Cutest Lil Counter Protest,” an event seeking to create a safe space for families to join in the local day of actions in response to the far-right rallies planned in San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend.
The event began at 11 a.m. with a group photo of the gathered families, many of whom showed up in costume. Then the group marched across the street to the de Young Museum, where the kids got to play with bubble machines. Some families continued on to the Botanical Gardens, where the march officially ended.
“I wanted to create a space where parents could feel comfortable bringing their kids,” said Sarah Ma, one of the organizers of The Cutest Lil Counter Protest. “We wanted to turn out for our city. We wanted to be counted, we wanted to be visible, so this was a great place to do it.”
Ma says the idea for the event came about during an online brainstorm with her local mom’s group shortly after the violent far-right rallies and counter-protests in Charlottesville, VA two weekends ago. Upon hearing that the Patriot Prayer organization was planning a similar rally for San Francisco, Ma says her group knew they had to join the counter-protest, but in a way that would be accessible to parents with young children.
Parent Melinda McConchie heard of the event through her son’s preschool and was happy to find a way she could involve her three-year-old son Sydney in activism at an early age.
“We just wanted a family friendly alternative we could both come to and I thought this was just a great idea,” McConchie said. “He could have his first protest with heart signs and it’s a really cute protest. It’s exactly what I think we stand for.”
Armed with handmade posters decorated with calls for people to respect others’ rights, nine-year-old Jonas Toberner attended the event with his parents and younger sister.
“I wanted to show that we care and that we like San Francisco,” Toberner said. “And we don’t want people who are being negative in our city.”
Oliver Manangan, 7, echoed this sentiment with his poster, which read, “Peace, Peace, Peace, not KKK.”
“I’m out here for Black Lives Matter and because everyone’s lives matter in the world,” Manangan said.
Ma said the sight of strollers decked out with protest signs and toddlers dressed in superhero costumes encapsulated her hope of inspiring young children to be activists.
“Our kids are the next generation of voters, activists, and leaders,” Ma said. “We need to show them that their voices have the power to shape their community whether it’s by voting, non-violent resistance or simply talking with their family members. We need to let our kids know that they can grow up to be President one day.