One Billion Rising: Annual event had to relocate after church pressured

March 03, 2017
Santa Paula News

“I have never been so proud to be a Santa Paulan,” a citizen told the City Council about the Community Center being offered after a local church canceled hosting the annual One Billion Rising.

Audrey Vincent, a retired Universalist Unitarian minister, told the council at the February 21 meeting, “I want to thank Mayor Jenny Crosswhite and the city for making the Community Center available,” for the 4th Annual One Billion rising.

“It’s for empowering women who experience domestic violence or gender violence,” she noted.

Pressure was put on Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Oak Street — where the event had been scheduled since September — by those who believed One Billion Rising was pro-abortion and represented radical feminism, according to those that objected to the event via social media.

At least one commented that they were glad the event had been cancelled by the church, just days before it was to be held on February 11.

When organizers, including Crosswhite, learned they would not be able to use Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the city, said Vincent, “Said yes, they will co-host this…they not only made it possible for us to have the event but a successful event,” that drew up 80 to 90 people.

The crowd included more than a dozen nonprofits and service providers to give out information to those “undergoing difficult situations…

“I have never been so proud to be a Santa Paulan,” concluded Vincent. 

Crosswhite herself had posted on social media when she learned One Billion Rising had been cancelled at the church, specifically chosen because of its proximity of those the event was trying the hardest to reach, Spanish-speaking women and girls.

“I am truly, truly heartbroken that anyone would cast judgment on our event, calling it and us cruel things. For the past four years, my colleagues and community/county partners and I have come together to try to raise awareness about domestic violence, cycles of violence, abuse, rape and human trafficking. We have poured our blood, sweat and tears into trying to get the word out because one woman, man or child suffering in this way is one too many. I would not wish this experience on my worse ‘enemy,’ let alone my friend or family member. The reality is that 1 in 3 women will be raped or abused in their lifetime. That means that we are ALL affected, if for no other reason by virtue our interconnectedness as human beings, but I promise you, you all know someone, if not yourselves. This is not a political event. This is a raw, beautiful, educational, healing event that has come to mean so much for so many over the past 4 years. The state of our country, and apparently even our community these days, where we jump to judgment without having all the facts, breaks my heart all over again. I am not pointing fingers at anyone I am sharing the depth of my sorrow with you all. I have no other agenda, and neither does anyone else planning Saturday’s event here in Santa Paula, than to raise awareness. We have remained silent for far too long while our neighbors and loved ones have suffered in silence. This being said, I have been inspired by everyone who has come together to make this event still possible, including the City of Santa Paula. I am grateful for each and every one of you — you know who you are.”

Following the event Crosswhite said “It was so incredible to walk out of the Community Center,” after One Billion Rising, which features the group dance Break the Chain, “and see a rainbow in the sky. Wow. God is good. Even as the storms in our lives and our country rage on, this promise remains. I am thankful for every person who helped make our event possible yesterday, and everyone who came out and took resources they can share with people they know, or for themselves. Even in the darkness the light will shine...”

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