Thousands Turn out at Fresno City Hall to March for Water

By: Ashley Ritchie

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin called the massive water rally, one of the largest gatherings ever on the steps of city hall.

Protesters say not even the heat was enough to keep them from fighting for an issue that affects our everyday way of life.

Just days before America's 233rd birthday, nearly 4,000 people gathered at the steps of Fresno City Hall to save the very country they say is ignoring them.

"Who wouldn't want the San Joaquin Valley to be what God intended it to be, the bread basket of the world?" Paul Rodriguez, well-known comedian and Valley native, said.

The problem, they say, is finding an ear to hear their plight.

"We're trying to get somebody to listen to us. We've got a serious message," Ray Azevedo said.

"When we run out of food in this country, we're going to be at the mercy of every rogue nation, every dictator. This is not a joke anymore," Patty Rosendahl said.

From the smallest steps to the biggest voices, it's a message that doesn't just end in the fields.

"It's like a chain of dominos, whether it be the guy that sales the tires or the fuel guy, guys like ourselves that sale equipment, we all rely on farming and farm-related industries. Without this water, we're all pretty much out of luck," Azevedo said.

"Michelle Obama's garden, trust me, is gonna go under snow for three months of the year, four months of the year, guess who's gonna be feeding them, California," Rosendahl said.

And thousands of miles away, protesters gave Washington D.C. some food for thought.

"There should be no reason for this unemployment. We should be growing so much food we should be exporting it and getting revenue back. The American farmer has done everything right. We didn't make bad loans like the bank did. We didn't make cars nobody wanted to buy like the car industry did," Rodriguez said.

And just before its 233rd birthday, these protesters hope the country they feed will remember the "bread basket" next time they sit down to dinner.

Attorneys with the Pacific Legal Foundation were also on hand for the rally, circulating a "save our water" petition, which urges the governor and the president to enact a federal panel, nicknamed "the God squad", that addresses the state's water emergency and its relation to environmental restrictions.