A crowd of 20 to 30 demonstrators gathered on the front lawn of the Santa Barbara Court House on Friday evening to show its opposition to the recall and to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s candidacy for governor.
The Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee (SBWPC) and the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County (DWSBC) organized the demonstration in response to recent sexual harassment allegations against Schwarzenegger.
Consisting mostly of women, the group of demonstrators heard speeches from 35th District Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson and Janet Barron, a member of the SBWPC Board of Directors. Demonstrators then lined the sidewalk along Anacapa Street holding signs with messages such as, “If Arnold Wins, Women Lose” and chanting, “No on Recall – No on Arnold.” There was a mixed reaction among passing motorists – some shouted insults at the protesters while others honked in agreement.
Jackson said recent media reports alleging Schwarzenegger’s sexual misconduct should be a “critical” wake-up call for the women and men of California.
“This man has a 30-year history of sexually harassing women,” Jackson said. “We must stand up and express our rejection of people who go about behaving in a way that is unacceptable.”
Nancy Miller, a political activist with the Democratic Service Club, said that the recent allegations have energized the fight against the recall.
“I’m just disgusted, and my fear is that it’s not just these women, but more who haven’t come forward,” Miller said. “It’s totally unacceptable.”
Within the past week, 15 women have accused Schwarzenegger of groping them. Several alleged victims say they were sexually harassed over a period of three decades. A Schwarzenegger campaign aide initially denied the accusations; however, Schwarzenegger publicly apologized to those who felt offended.
“His apology does not excuse him from responsibility,” Jackson said. “It shows he’s admitting to these accusations.”
Barbie Deutsche, president of the DWSBC, said she was upset not only because of Schwarzenegger’s behavior towards women, but also because of his political views.
“All he’s really said is that he’s going to cut the automobile tax. That eight billion dollars goes to schools,” Deutsche said. “He hasn’t said how he will cover that loss.”
Among the anti-Arnold posters, several Schwarzenegger supporters were also present in the crowd.
“We’ve been hearing that [the SBWPC and DWSBC] would be demonstrating, and we just wanted to make sure both sides were represented,”said Republican Central Committee Chair Carol Anderson, who stood holding a “Vote Schwarzenegger” sign next to a woman holding a “No Groper for Governor” sign.
Barron said she was happy with the turnout, considering there were only 24 hours of notice given before the demonstration.
“[Our goal was] to raise awareness about Arnold’s past behavior and get people not to vote for him,” Barron said. “This man degrades and humiliates women and shouldn’t be in office. What he’s doing is not only offensive; it’s illegal.”