Just one year after an estimated 6,000 people marched through the heart of downtown Santa Barbara to protest injustices surrounding gender, race, and sexual orientation — spurred largely by the election of a man who a few months before had been heard on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women — members of the Santa Barbara community will reassemble to advocate for legislative and social reform at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 20.
This year’s event will differ from last year’s in that no marching will actually happen. The Santa Barbara Police Department has requested people not to march because so many officers are working the recovery efforts in Montecito following the catastrophic mudslides January 9.
“They are not trying to stop it,” organizer Michal Lynch stated. “Their concern is for our safety. It’s almost impossible to keep people on the sidewalk, and there is not enough staff available to provide safety for marching in the street.”
Because of this, the full event will take place in De la Guerra Plaza, where the march began last year. The full two hours that was designated to the event prior to the mudslides will be filled with performances and speakers from organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, and Planned Parenthood.
Four thousand people have already marked that they are either “going to” or “interested in” the event on Facebook. A similar event has been organized in Carpinteria. Another women’s rights march will be held on March 10 to mark International Women’s Day in downtown Santa Barbara.
The second annual Santa Barbara Women’s March — part of a international movement composed of millions of protesters across the globe — will once again bring people of varying races, genders, ages, cultures, and political affiliations together to empower those who support women’s rights, civil liberties, and social justice.
The movement was sparked by the election of President Donald Trump, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault by dozens of women during his campaign. Since then, attention has surged for women’s rights, particularly against harassment in the workplace. Lynch said that she expects increased conversation regarding the topic; however, the event will not focus on it.
“Some people are traumatized, and we don’t want to eliminate people from participating,” she said. “We don’t want to trigger anybody.”
But this year’s event, which is being hosted by the student-run organization Future Leaders of America, would not host politicians as speakers, Lynch said. “We actively discouraged politicians from speaking,” she said. “We encouraged politicians to come to the table and reach out to meet the community, because that’s what matters to people. We’ve heard them [the politicians] speak before.
“We’ve reached out to the community and to as many organizations as possible that are not usually represented,” Lynch added. “That’s what we are trying to bring.”
Editor’s Note: This story was revised on January 20 as the International Women’s Day march takes place in Santa Barbara two days after the actual day, which is March 8.