Protests in De La Guerra Plaza continued this afternoon with fired Santa Barbara News-Press employees attempting to disrupt life inside their former office. Moving the time of the protest from 3 p.m. to noon seemed to help draw a crowd to the area, as more protesters showed up today than at ones held earlier this week. Of course, the makeshift orchestra of noisemakers didn’t hurt either. In addition to a trumpet and snare drum, protestors made liberal use of bike bells, megaphones, a train whistle, and New Year’s Eve party favors.
While the instruments sounded and the drum beat — sometimes with a rhythm that sounded remarkably like that of “My Sharona” — but the demeanor of those reporters who have lost their jobs remained firm, as exemplified by Dawn Hobbs’ address at the rally’s start. “My name is Dawn Hobbs, and I’m an illegally fired crime and court reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press,” she said. Hobbs, who was among those fired Monday, recalled the charges filed against Barry Cappello yesterday for allegedly intimidating current News-Press against taking further measures against their employer. “This will be in court sooner than they think,” Hobbs said of the matter. “We have to bring this paper to its knees… This is not a company you can run like a widget business. This is a public trust,” she said. Hobbs continued that the only “crime” she and her fellow co-workers had committed was loyalty to their jobs.
After Hobbs’ address, about 40 people — including many former News-Press staffers clad in black — marched in a circle around the entrance to the office, chanting “Shame.” “The whole town is watching,” and “Thirty-three to six,” the last of which referred to the outcome of the employees’ vote on whether to unionize. The group then marched up to the corner of State Street and Canon Perdido, where Cappello’s office occupies the second story of the building. Chants of “shame” were then directed at Cappello himself, instead of Wendy McCaw, who bore the brunt of the DLG Plaza ruckus. Cappello himself did not address the crowd.
Christine Cunningham, a Santa Ynez resident, attended the protest with her daughter in tow. Cunningham said she felt the current state of the News-Press was particularly harmful to her and others living in her region, as they have do alternative daily newspaper there. “I rely on the News-Press to tell me about library events for my daughter and things like that,” said Cunningham. In its current state, Cunningham said, she could not rely on the paper.
After the protest, Hobbs said she was pleased with the turnout, crediting increased number of protesters to the event being held during lunchtime, when more Santa Barbara residents would be on State Street. Hobbs said the next protest — “Wake Up Wendy Wednesday” — will take place at noon on Wednesday, February 21 and encouraged those concerned to attend.
Below are two videos from the protest.
And, finally, here is an excerpt from Kuznia’s brief performance. (Please excuse the fact that it is sideways. Head-tilting is recommended.)