Drumming, loud cheers and call-and-response chants echoed in the crowd of at least 1,000 people participating in the Women’s March in Santa Barbara on Saturday.
Central Coast residents were joined by activists at similar marches and events held in other cities across the country.
Demonstrators at Santa Barbara’s large rally walked from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden to De la Guerra Plaza in front of City Hall in the heart of downtown.
Onlookers took videos and pictures of marchers along State Street.
Peaceful demonstrators of all ages surged into the streets under police escort.
They held banners and handmade signs that read, “I’m with her” and “Girls just want to have fundamental rights,” along with hundreds of other signs promoting women's rights, diversity, equality and other social issues, and protesting President Donald Trump.
Several times the crowd shouted, “Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like.”
“We are marching for rights,” event organizer Michal Lynch told attendees before the Santa Barbara march began toward State Street.
Saturday marked the Santa Barbara community’s fourth annual Women’s March. For the past three years, activists have been marching, training, organizing and more to remove Trump from office, according to event organizers.
“It has been three years since we all turned out for the largest political uprising in this country’s history,” Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund CEO Jenna Tosh said. “Ever since then, we got busy.
“We made phone calls. We knocked on doors. We called our legislators. We elected more women, more women of color and more young people to Congress than we ever had before, and we have watched as young people and young activists stepped up to lead this moment.”
She gave a shout-out to the teens and young adult activists.
“Young people are on fire,” Tosh said.
Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, also addressed the crowd. She said Californians have worked to stand up, and 2020 is a year when stakes are high. Limón urged the crowd to “exercise their voice” and a fundamental right — the right to vote.
“As we begin a new decade,” Limón said, “let’s also remember what we stand for, and what we believe. We know that we will not sit back and watch injustice happen in our community. In the last years, and since the last presidential election, we have grown stronger. We have grown smarter, and we will continue to keep moving forward.”
At the end of the speeches, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, fired up the crowd with her remarks and urged activists to vote. She also led the crowd in a call-and-response chant.
“We are here because we understand the importance of this election,” Jackson said. “We are here because we understand democracy is at risk. Respect and dignity are at risk.”
The Santa Barbara march was among similar events held on the Central Coast.
A few hundred people gathered at Minami Park in Santa Maria for the community’s second Women’s March.
The procession, led by the Santa Maria High School Saints Marching Band, traveled east along Enos Drive and north along South Broadway before turning onto Stowell Road and later Depot Street before ending up back at the park.
Participants, including residents from the Lompoc and Santa Ynez valleys, carried assorted signs and chanted while walking along the route. Many passing drivers honked their horns in support.
In addition to the march and speeches, the events in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara also included a resource fair with participation by dozens of local nonprofit organizations.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.