Santa Barbara Women's March
Santa Barbara’s Massive Women’s March
Organizers, Police Stunned By Turnout of 6,000-Plus
Saturday, January 21, 2017
More than 6,000 protestors gathered, thronged, and rallied in De la Guerra Plaza this Saturday — far more than anyone can remember happening before, and way beyond what police and organizers alike expected — in response to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States. Like the bigger marches taking place in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and throughout the nation and the world, Santa Barbara’s rally was a women’s march, though many men participated and many issues other than women’s rights were championed.
The prospect of a Trump White House has horrified and galvanized Santa Barbara’s liberal and Democratic residents, but the spirit at Saturday’s rally was defiantly upbeat rather than angry. Many participating spent considerable time crafting placards to carry. “Make America Sane Again,” read one. “Love Trumps Hate,” read another. Many riffed on Trump’s infamous boast about getting away with “grabbing women by their pussy,” and others expanded on this theme, carrying signs reading “Viva la Vulva,” or “My Pussy, My Choice.” One male protestor referenced his own genitalia, with a sign reading, “No Dick-tatorship.”
After listening to speeches by Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, councilmember Cathy Murillo, Assemblymember Monique Limon, and Planned Parenthood executive Jenna Tosh, the crowd marched down State Street to the beach. While most turned around and marched back to De la Guerra Plaza, a sizable group split off and headed to Pershing Park.
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider rallies the crowd at De la Guerra Plaza before the Women’s March.
Like event organizers, Santa Barbara police had little idea how many protestors to expect. Organizer Michal Lynch, a bookkeeper and folk dance instructor, said she initially envisioned a small group of about 50 marching to make a quiet but determined statement of solidarity with the larger march taking place in Los Angles. As of Friday, Lynch said she’d gotten social media confirmations of intent from 3,500. By Saturday, that number had ballooned to 4,500.