"Enough" was one of the most prominent messages at Saturday's march in West Downtown.
Marching in Memory of Murder Victim
More Than 100 Come Together to Demand Safety in Santa Barbara’s West Downtown Neighborhood
Saturday, February 28, 2009
“What do we want?” hollered Sharon Byrne on Saturday morning into the crowd of more than 100 West Downtown residents who gathered on the corner of Haley and De la Vina streets in Santa Barbara with signs proclaiming “Enough Is Enough” and “Queremos Paz.” Coming together to express their outrage in the wake of the murder of Baldemar Leal, a 22-year-old who was stabbed multiple times last Saturday, February 21, and left to lie on the sidewalk until the next morning, the crowd - which was organized by Byrne along with Christine Pizarro and Tony Vassallo - roared again and again: “Safety Now!”
By Paul Wellman
West Downtown residents and business owners gathered outside Brownie’s Market on Saturday to call an end to the violence in their neighborhood.
Their numbers impressive, the group turned many heads during its march down State Street, earning the toots of many car horns from supportive citizens. Resident Steve Johnson smiled at the ranks of neighbors who came together, saying, “I was worried it might only be six or seven people!” The march began on the spot of last week’s murder, after the crowd had lit a candle and shared a moment of silent respect and prayer.
West Downtown March, February 28
More than 100 resident marched from West Downtown to State Street to protest violence in their neighborhood.
Byrne says the goals in mind for a march of this kind are twofold: first, she hopes to put the West Downtown neighborhood on the map, an area, according to Byrne, overpopulated by liquor stores that rarely receives attention as a cohesive neighborhood, and a place where the city “dumps homeless;” secondly, Byrne hopes to bring people together in the neighborhood “to watch out for each other, and get a little coalescence.”
Byrne and the other founders of the march feel their needs are overlooked often by a city that spends little time dealing with what too many consider a “bad neighborhood.” “This is what we have to deal with,” she said while walking down De La Vina and gesturing to a ripped bag of garbage that had spilled its contents all over the sidewalk. The February 21 murder was sadly not isolated, she said, but rather the most recent crime in the heart of the West Downtown community.
Among the faces in the marching crowd were mayoral hopefuls Iya Falcone and Helene Schneider, who gave their support while each taking the opportunity to outline issues they hope to address in office.
By Paul Wellman
City councilmember and mayoral candidate Helene Schneider at the march.
Falcone made similar points. “They feel they’re not being listened to, and that’s a tragedy,” she said, lamenting the problem of safety for so many in the downtown area. She said that while the community had tough budgetary choices on the horizon, the decision has to come from the neighborhoods, not the city. Said Falcone, “I will do whatever the community wants.”
City councilmember and mayoral candidate Iya Falcone also spoke at the march.