On Saturday April 22, 2017 over 15,000 demonstrators congregated at the Justin Herman Plaza to kick off the March for Science in San Francisco. The march was part of a national day of action in support of scientific research and expansion to be held on Earth Day. The National Committee of the March for Science planned marches in major global cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Sydney. The movement gained momentum when celebrity mechanical engineer and television personality Bill Nye spearheaded a March for Science in Washington, D.C.
At around noon, the March for Science in San Francisco was commenced with a keynote speech given by Adam Savage. Savage was one of the experimenters on the hit Discovery Network program Mythbusters which ran from 2003-2016.
“The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines science as; the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. That doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. I define science as; the quest against ignorance. The enemy is bias, especially when we choose to see the world not for how it is but for how we wish it to be. When we participate in our democracy, when we speak to those in power from our hearts and with our votes, and when we let our collective voices be heard, we can move worlds. So let us molecules, atoms and scientists march together and start a chain reaction. Let us move this world.”
After Savage’s speech, the pro-science demonstrators marched 1.5 miles from Justin Herman Plaza to Civic Center Plaza down the scenic and busy Market Street. The demonstrators were initially limited to the sidewalks around Market Street but the overwhelming number of participants forced SFPD officers to close off Market Street from drivers entirely.
The National Committee for the March for Science released an initial statement declaring that the March for Science would be a “non-partisan event.” However, the demonstration in San Francisco clearly held a strong political undertone. In the weeks leading up to the March for Science, the Trump Administration cut Environmental Protection Agency funding by 31%. This also comes just weeks after Chief Executive of the U.S. House Science Committee Dr. Rush Holt testified that much of the Republican Party’s data on climate change had been falsified. Many demonstrators at the march held signs that ridiculed the Trump Administration with text such as;
Grab ‘Em by the Data
Make America Fact Check Again
Alternative Facts are √(-1) [Irrational]
Better a Mad Scientist than a Mad President
“There was no way this march wasn’t going to get political” said demonstrator Frank Sellers of Richmond. Sellers sported a picket sign with an image of Trump sporting haunting, glowing eyes. “The sleep of reason produces real monsters like Trump. When someone in that kind of position of power takes shots at things as real as global warming, you know that society needs to act. His whole cabinet is ignorant and we’ll be damned if we all go down with him.”
The march concluded as demonstrators participated in a science fair at the San Francisco Civic Center. The science fair presented various experiment results and informational booths facilitated by local scientific groups. Among these groups were the San Francisco State University School of Biology, the NASA Ames Research Facility, and the Bay Area chapter of Native Americans for Science. Whereas other recent demonstrations in the Bay Area have resulted in multiple arrests for assault and battery, the 2017 March for Science was a peaceful event that ended with no violent confrontations.