Friday night around 7 p.m., hundreds gathered at The Castro's Harvey Milk Plaza — hearts heavy, tears in their eyes, covering lit wicks from modest breezes — to both mourn and celebrate the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This omnipresent feeling of dread and despondency that 2020 has bestowed on all of us is hard to shake loose. It feels like nothing worse can happen this year; then it does — coming down with a heart-sinking heaviness. One blaze begins dying out, another one starts growing. Tens of housands continue to die from COVID-19 deaths. (The guy or gal or non-binary royalty you had feelings for ghosted you... amid a pandemic.) So the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is as inconceivably horrible as it is soberingly fit in this, truly, hellacious year.
Yes: it feels like we're all doomed.
But that feeling of sinking hopelessness isn't what RGB would've wanted. After all, one of her dying wishes, per multiple news sources, was that her seat on the Supreme Court not be filled until there's a new commander-in-chief in The Oval Office. And with that galvanized sense of resilience, strength, and resistance was palpable in The Castro yesterday evening as hundreds chorused, clapped, and marched to honor the late judiciary powerhouse.
“For the LGBTQ community — for us — elections and the courts are a matter of life and death,” said Senator Scott Wiener Friday to the crowds huddling outside of the popular watering hole Twin Peaks. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped create so much of the modern civil rights framework legally. There will never be another like her.”
As KQED notes, the gathering initially numbered somewhere near 200, but soon ballooned into 500 as people began slowly marching toward Harvey Milk's former camera shop on Castro Street. Prior to the trudging, remakes from Cleve Jones, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and other local notables were given that paid homage to the 87-year-old justice who passed away earlier in the day due to complications from advanced pancreatic cancer.
(I, too, was in the candlelit crowd last night; I needed to find myself in the air of a collective catharsis — if for no other reason that to save my mind from going down a dark alleyway it had no business being in. One woman close to me was openly sobbing, all while shielding her candle's flame from the mild wind and ricocheting tears. Another individual — who appeared just shy of six-feet tall, their long dirty-blonde hair strung high like festival cotton candy — gazed out at the crowd. I later crossed paths with them, albeit in a socially distant manner, when they said to me through their mask "it feels like the end... but there's no other place I'd rather be than here if it really is that.")
Per the media outlet, Mandelman said he had “been a mess” since he heard the news, which reads as incredibly relatable. The SF supervisor continued to wax on the day's heaviness, adding that it's up to us to keep Trump from appointing Ginsburg’s successor.
Alex U. Inn, a fervent community organizer who helped put together the last-minute gathering — they were was also a part of June's "People's March & Rally" that Juanita MORE! also played a role in — told the Chronicle “people came out because they wanted community.” Inn also made sure to note that Ginsburg’s last vote “saved our transgender community."
Alas, it's now our job, as an engaged and cerebral cohort, to save her legacy — and stand for the inclusive visions she was so adamantly fighting tooth and nail for.
If you missed last night’s candle vigil and march, check out some of our favorite photos of the evening's mass mourning and rallying, below.
We said Kaddish in the Castro tonight. Rest in Power RBG pic.twitter.com/3SbvAMaWeS— Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) September 19, 2020
A small and soulful candle lit gathering in the Castro tonight said a prayer for RBG, then walked to Harvey Milk’s old camera shop, ending with the charge to do all we can for #BidenHarris2020 pic.twitter.com/J92lVf9MZN— Teri Olle (@TeriOlle) September 19, 2020
The Castro turning out to mourn RBG pic.twitter.com/dTxSFHVf8A— Adrian Daub (@adriandaub) September 19, 2020
Spontaneous vigil for RBG last night in the Castro. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/dWBlWVNWKw— Matt Canfield (@mattccanfield) September 19, 2020
The Castro mourns Ruth Bader Ginsburg pic.twitter.com/P2iDs3vS0S— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) September 19, 2020
Memorial tonight in San Francisco’s Castro. We all owe so much to Justice Ginsburg. Rest in power. #RipRBG mourn together then rise together and fight like hell. Our lives depend on it. pic.twitter.com/A4xaIYddM7— Brad Colby (@BradColby) September 19, 2020
Image: Matt Charnock / SFist