Women’s March Fired Up for Election

Crowd Smaller Than in Years Past but Focused

Santa Barbara Women's March 2020 | Credit: Miranda de Moraes

A call to “Dump Trump” echoed during the Women’s March in Santa Barbara, as activists held their fourth event, which gathered in the Sunken Garden at the County Courthouse on Saturday and marched down State Street to De la Guerra Plaza. The crowd was smaller than in the past yet filled the courthouse green, fired up by the prospect of an impeachment trial. November’s election — and the possibility of Donald Trump’s re-election— took on a special significance to demonstrators. Speakers, posters, and chants overlapped in urgency to encourage “marching all the way to November,” Supervisor Das Williams called to the crowd.

“Is there anything that I can do?” asked speaker Savannah Parison, who chairs Indivisible Santa Barbara. “Be informed about your ballot,” she told the assembled, “not just the top of the ticket.”

The first Women’s March drew immense support three years ago — deemed the largest single-day protest in human history — the day after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Wearing pink “pussy” hats, knitted in response to a lewd comment of Trump’s caught on tape, protesters called for legislation for women’s rights, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, and workers’ rights — all seen by demonstrators as jeopardized by Trump’s election.

Some people wanted more than polite protest: “I went the first year, in 2017, and it just felt like a parade. It wasn’t disruptive enough,” said one attendee Saturday afternoon, a UCSB Feminist Studies student.

Three thousand people indicated an interest in the 2017 march in Santa Barbara — and about 6,000 turned out — while 655 people responded to the Facebook post this year. This year’s crowd size nonetheless looked to be north of 1,000 protesters. Attendance on a global scale dropped significantly in 2020 compared to 2017, many media sources stated.

Photo: Miranda de Moraes

This year’s march in Santa Barbara saw creative and sometimes explicit signs, as in years past, and also held some encounters — heated but amicable — between protesters and Trump supporters.

Some of the marchers have sponsored and supported each of the events (in 2018, only a rally took place as law enforcement were on the 1/9 Debris Flow and could not police the march). One youngster, 6-year-old Lucia, attended the first march in Santa Barbara soon after she learned to walk. This Saturday, her mother said she hoped to go to the Los Angeles Women’s March next year, and Lucia agreed, saying, “It’s fun!”

“When you start with the youth, with the young women and girls, things will change,” said speaker Cami Chou from Dos Pueblos High School. She’s co-president of Her Festival, which will celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 at Girsh Park.

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