Marchers came from all over the county. Article and photos by Richard Lieberman
Over 1,500 people gathered in downtown Ventura’s Plaza Park to participate in Ventura County Rising, the second annual Women’s March. A chilly Saturday morning in Ventura, marchers were bundled up in winter coats, scarves and hats. Marchers came from all over the county including seniors to toddlers. The Marchers gathered at Plaza Park before the event. Pink Hats worn by marchers symbolizing solidarity and empathy with marchers from around the country were plentiful and dotted the crowd. Entertainment provided by Johnny and the Lovehandles rocked the crowd with old time rock and roll and reggae songs. Over 30 local organizations had tables set up providing information about their various causes. Environmental groups from the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties Union and many others displayed information on how to get involved with the various groups.
Opening remarks were made by Kathleen Shore one of the organizers of the Ventura March. Shore opened the march giving a mission statement to the gathered participants “Last year, the naysayers said, “What good is a march? Shore said. “Well this year we are showing you what good is a march, it bring us together, it energizes us and it reminds us of all the good that we have done this year.”
After Shore’s opening remarks the Reverend Madfdie Sifantus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Paula gave a benediction to the gathered marchers. The vice mayor of Ventura Matt LaVere spoke about the resilience of the marchers comparing and connecting them to the recent Thomas Fire that ravaged the county.
“Being here this morning and seeing this energy and the enthusiasm really makes me realize that no natural disaster is going to take away our spirit to stand up and fight and rally for those rights that mean so much to us,” LaVere said.
Assemblywoman Monique Limon, Democrat Santa Barbara getting to Ventura via train due to the closure of the 101 addressed the crowd. Limon stated, “Thank goodness for public transportation”. “As a community and as a state, we have stood up for the values protecting women, immigrants, our LGBT community, the environment and many more issues,” Li mon added. “California continues to push back on your behalf. We don’t do this alone, we do this together,” she added.
Atmospheric Scientist and author Peter Kalmus who authored the book “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution,” addressed the gathering about the impact of climate change on the local level and what can be done to stop it.
After the opening remarks the march began in earnest, with marchers traversing about a mile of downtown Ventura marching Westbound on Thompson Boulevard, then North on Oak, West on Santa Clara Street, then again North to Main Street. Passing cars honked horns favoring the march, and sometimes honked in protest of the march. Rampant chants echoed all along the march route. “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.” Marchers shouted along the march route.
As one of the organizers of the march Kathleen Shore added, “Change happens at the local level,” “to me, the power of this event is signing up for those organizations that have been on the ground, have been doing this hard work day to day, showing up to city council meetings, showing up to their own meetings.” “It’s a lot of work to create social change, and these organizations here are the ones who have been doing it,” she added.