Following the numerous protests ignited by Tuesday’s election, almost 2,000 Santa Barbara residents marched through State Street in protest of the new president-elect Donald Trump.
Organized by People Organized for the Defense & Equal Rights of SB Youth (PODER), the protest began at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The starting point of the event was in De La Guerra Plaza, where PODER and fellow speakers were given the chance to express their sentiments about the election.
Members of PODER declared from the start that “This is a march, this is not a riot; we will not tolerate any violence or hate speech on our behalf,” intending to put to rest any notions of possible acts of aggression in the midst of protest.
In a statement released prior to the march, PODER said it had no intention of disrupting the Veterans Day parade to take place earlier on Saturday. According to the statement, organizers changed the time of the event so that it would not conflict with the parade.
Referencing hate crimes that occurred in the United States after the election, PODER organizer Candice Perez said, “Even here in Santa Barbara, I have heard so many people say they have been verbally abused and even physically abused.”
Chumash elder Marcus Lopez blessed the crowd with sage medicine before beginning his speech, which centered around being “protectors of a generation.” He called the crowd to action, encouraging them to “challenge the system.”
Frank Rodriguez, organizer with the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, was a child when Proposition 187 passed into law in California. The legislation was written to deny public services to undocumented immigrants.
“The fear that we saw in our parents eyes that we’re seeing again today is why I’m so happy to see everyone here today,” he said.
Walking from De La Guerra Plaza to Pershing Park, the protesters overtook the streets with guidance from the police and made themselves heard. As this was a peaceful protest, instead of the seemingly popular “Fuck Donald Trump,” the crowd opted for chants such as “Love Trumps Hate” and “A people united will never be divided.”
Bystanders watched, filmed and cheered on the crowd as they chanted and marched throughout downtown Santa Barbara; a few onlookers even got emotional in response to the demonstration. Handcrafted signs became Santa Barbara’s skyline for the moment, as protesters proudly displayed phrases like “Bigotry is Not Unity” and “Hate Won’t Make Us Great.”
To close the march, speakers took the stage in Pershing Park to voice their feelings one last time. Following the speeches were traditional Toltec/Aztec prayer dances performed by local danzantes. The danzantes included PODER members, a Chumash man, UCSB students and several locals.
LGBTQ, Mexican and American flags were flown throughout the crowd, intended to celebrate the diversity of America on this Veterans Day weekend.
During the final gathering in Pershing Park, a small group of Trump supporters showed up, upsetting some of the protesters. Trump supporters walked alongside the protest and listened to the speeches given by members of the march, observing the demonstration.
Correction: The closing prayer dances were Toltec/Aztec, not Chumash, and were performed by a mixed group of local dancers.