On Friday, January 20, hundreds of people from the Santa Barbara community gathered at De La Guerra Plaza. While Donald Trump’s inauguration was certainly the subject of their protest, the rally focused more generally on uniting people and “taking back democracy.”
The march began at 3:30 p.m. and lasted until 6:00 p.m. Several organizations set up tables to provide information about their services, such as Planned Parenthood and Food & Water Watch. Other organizations were expected to appear, but backed out due to the predicted heavy rainfall. However, despite the stormy morning, protesters lucked out with an almost completely dry and sunny afternoon.
Alex Favacho, one of the event organizers, stated that “the point of the Love Fights Back rally was to show people how they can get involved to make a difference in the future.” Favacho noticed that due to Trump’s election, organizations are now coming together in a way they never had before. They are finding ways to work together for the common good, he said, instead of focusing on the differences of their specific causes.
The protest began and ended with various speakers talking about a number of issues and the marginalized communities that Trump’s presidency has threatened. Be it about racism, homophobia, sexism, climate change, gentrification, health care, etc. — passionate individuals used their voices to speak out. They offered inspirational words and ways to help.
The crowd eagerly chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” as they marched up State Street, and down Anapamu. Passersby and business owners rose their fists in solidarity, with smiling faces. Law enforcement remained supportive, and only twice was there a “Go Trump” shout from a distance.
People from all walks of life attended the rally, from high school kids holding signs and jumping up and down in a circle to a husband and wife holding a sleeping newborn. After talking with several attendees about what brought them to the protest, a clear theme emerged: community. People had come together to find support and safety in a crowd that would be filled with like-minded individuals wanting to make a difference.
For many attendees, Trumps presidency wasn’t what sprung them into action. They had been politically active for decades. But for others, “the bubble was broken” on November 8. Kathy Swift of Radio Occupy Santa Barbara came to the rally because she is afraid of the loss of basic civil rights. She knows she will be continuing to fight throughout Trump’s presidency, and longer, stating that he is only a symptom of a much larger corporate elite.
As the rally came to a close, the crowd raised their fists together. Various youth speakers got on stage and voiced their reactions and emotions to a post-Trump America. Attendees were encouraged to write issues of importance on postcards that were passed around, and taped to City Hall. The idea was for the people to voice what they wanted changed, not have someone say it for them.