Monday, March 13, 2017

Downtown Streets Blocked in Santa Cruz During International Women's Day Strike

On March 8, striking community members marched through downtown Santa Cruz in solidarity with Women's Strikes organized around the world on International Women's Day as a follow up to the massive Women's Marches held on January 21, 2017, the day after the Inauguration of Trump.

One group participating in the March 8 demonstration was the UCSC March Collective, who invited the public to join in the call for solidarity with, "women, trans and queer people, muslims, immigrants, people of color, sex workers, survivors of violence, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and oppressed people everywhere." The march collective invited people of all genders to join the action, stating in an event announcement that, "We strike because we can't afford not to care."

Multiple events were planned for International Women's Day in Santa Cruz. The downtown march began at Louden Nelson Center and made its way to the Santa Cruz Town Clock where speakers were heard in front of the clock and in the street, where many of the participants held space at the big intersection at Water and Pacific.

Streets were blocked for nearly an hour and a half, during which time several frustrated drivers exchanged angry words with the demonstrators. To divert traffic, police set up one road block on Water Street, but left the other streets unattended.

Instead of using police resources to direct traffic away from the demonstration and ensure public safety, the department instead chose to direct officers to monitor the event from multiple locations. One officer was stationed on top of the hill above the clock tower, and appeared to be video recording demonstrators who were blocking streets. One officer monitoring the demonstration was parked on Front Street, some distance away from the action.

As a result, one man attempted to drive through the demonstration with his large truck. A group immediately surrounded the man's vehicle to prevent him from plowing through people. They kept him at bay for nearly a half an hour while he revved his truck's engine, periodically lurching the vehicle forward inches a time, and dangerously wedging further into the mass of people.

Looking to report the man in the truck, a number of individuals who felt physically threatened walked over to the one location on Water Street where police were directing traffic. Eventually demonstrators were able to convince the man to turn his vehicle around. After he drove away police followed him, catching up to him one block away.

Santa Cruz Police Lieutenant Christian LeMoss spoke with the driver while two other officers with the department surrounded the truck to protect the man. Though there were no "protesters" in sight, and only one other photographer on the street in addition to this reporter, one of the officers kept his hand placed on his gun, while the other prominently displayed a long billy club at his side.

The driver of the truck was neither arrested or cited.

LeMoss spoke to the man from the passenger side of the vehicle, on which the phrase "I am a Racist" had been etched onto the truck's door. A report airing on KSBW later in the evening on March 8 stated that police were still investigating an incident of vandalism to a vehicle that occurred during the demonstration, however the report did not identify the make of the vehicle, or any further details.

The first observance of Women's Day was organized on February 28, 1909 in New York by the Socialist Party of America. The holiday was mostly celebrated in communist countries and by international socialist movements until it was officially adopted by the United Nations in 1975.

An event announcement for the Santa Cruz Women's Strike explained the background for the action:

"Following the January 21st Women’s March against Trump, the largest single protest in U.S. history, women in over 30 different countries have called for an International Women’s Strike -- a Day Without A Woman -- on March 8th, 2017, International Women’s Day.

"March 8th will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism, and who are further threatened by Trump and his misogynist, racist policies. We call for solidarity with trans and queer people, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, sex workers, survivors of violence, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and oppressed people everywhere. We invite people of all genders to join in.

"We demand an end to gender violence, and that rapists and sexual harassers be held accountable. We demand an end to ICE raids and deportations in our communities. We demand an end to police brutality. We demand free healthcare for all, including full access to reproductive and gender-affirming care. We demand free, community-centered child care and elder care. We demand full and free access to education. We demand affordable housing and a living wage.

"Against the open white supremacists in the current government and the far right they have given confidence to, we stand for an uncompromising anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism. This means that movements such as Black Lives Matter, the struggle against police brutality and mass incarceration, the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the demand for open borders and for immigrant rights and for the decolonization of Palestine are for us the beating heart of this new feminist movement. We want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.

"On March 8th, we call on people of all genders to pledge to go on strike, to refuse work and school, and to join us in building a new international feminist movement that fights not only against Trump, but against the conditions that produced Trump -- racial and sexual violence, environmental destruction, imperial wars abroad, and an economic system that puts profit before people. The only way we can move forward is together."

Ernestina Saldaña of the group Sanctuary Santa Cruz speaks

Reverend Deborah Johnson of Inner Light Ministries speaks

A Santa Cruz police officer appeared to be recording the demonstration from Mission Hill

A Santa Cruz police officer monitors the demonstration from Front Street

The driver who attempted to plow his truck through the group of people

Police speak with the driver of the truck

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Thousands Participate in Santa Cruz Women’s March

Thousands of people marched in downtown Santa Cruz on January 21 in the Women’s March Santa Cruz County.

The Women’s March Santa Cruz County coincided with the Women’s March on Washington DC, as well as those held internationally.

In Santa Cruz there was nearly an hour and a half of solid, continuous marching from Church Street to the Louden Nelson Center, after the front of the group started moving and reached Pacific Avenue.

Women’s March Santa Cruz Mission Statement:

"We stand with you, our partners and allies, to march in solidarity to protect the rights of ALL, including Women, LGBTQ, Immigrants, Religious Freedom, People with disabilities, and rights of People of color, sending a bold message to our administration and to the world. We recognize that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. All Human Rights matter- defenders of Human Rights join us!"

More photos can be seen on flickr or Facebook