More than 2,500 people including scores of Santa Paulans attended Saturday’s Justice for All March held in Downtown Ventura. Marchers met and rallied at Plaza Park for the event to promote a just government and society. Photo by Mike Johnson

Justice for All: Thousands gather at Ventura Plaza Park for march

January 25, 2017
Santa Paula News

Thousands of Ventura County residents including scores of Santa Paulans flooded Downtown Ventura Saturday for the Justice for All March, just one of hundreds of such events held throughout the nation and world. 

Saturday’s march also coincided with the Women’s March on Washington that drew an estimated 600,000 to 750,000 people.

The marches stemmed from the election of President Donald Trump in November. Many claim Trump’s campaign was divisive and his Cabinet picks and proposed policy changes — from health, insurance and education to finance — will harm Americans. 

According to organizers at least 2,500 people attended the Ventura march including women, men, children, seniors and families. The attendance startled even those that had planned the march and spread the word via social media. Almost 1,700 had indicated they would attend the event on its Facebook page but like other marches around the nation the attendance was much more than expected.

The Ventura event kept swelling with people  and no formal road closures had been ordered for marchers in the peaceful gathering.

Planning for the march started about two weeks after the November 8 election, a committee that includes Santa Paulans John Procter, a City Councilman, and former Mayor Mary Ann Krause. Procter acted as an event emcee and also provided musical entertainment.

Veterans for Peace, Planned Parenthood, AIDs Walk Ventura and Amnesty International were among the dozens of organizations that partnered with the march. 

The march began at the gazebo in Plaza Park where speakers addressed various aspects of the new administration and how it potentially affects the nation.

Catherine Pulisic, a co-founder of the Justice for All grassroots group was the first to speak, urging a show of unity by and pointing an index finger to the sky. 

“I ask you to commit to action that supports an America,” and its differences and, noted Pulisic, “relishes in our diversity. An America that builds our people up and focuses on our commonality as human beings first. 

“This march today is not our end,” she noted, but rather, “This march today is our new beginning.”  

Various elected officials spoke representing local, county and state offices. Crowding the stage were Procter and Santa Paula Mayor Jenny Crosswhite as well as Ventura County Supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza and Ventura City Council members Cheryl Heitmann and Matt Lavere, among others.

Assemblywoman Monique Limon, whose 37th District also includes Santa Paula, told the crowd “We will not allow injustices to happen!”

Overall, the march lived up to its billing as a “family friendly, peaceful demonstration to unite our communities in support of equal rights for all.”

Many carried signs showing diverse commentary from whimsical to biting. 

Carrie Fisher as “Star Wars” Princess Leia decorated several posters noting “A woman’s place is in the Resistance” while others carried signs reflecting environmental concerns, equal justice, LGBT, racial and religious equality and education.

“Everyone belongs, even those that believe differently,” noted a sign paying homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here,” read another poster, a saying that also was a crowd chant.

Several attendees from outside Ventura County said they were unable to attend the Women’s March in Washington or an event in Los Angeles, the latter also the destination of numerous Santa Paulans who reported being unable to find parking within miles of the North Hollywood Metro Station. Once they were parked and walked to the station they had to wait hours as new trains were added to take people to Downtown LA where the crowd was so thick the march could not be held. 

There had also been a traffic jam in Ventura that started on the 101 Freeway and clogged surface streets as people searched for parking — public lots were filled — near Plaza Park. 

Several attendees said they only realized the size of the crowd when they didn’t see people they knew would be attending. But they were able to march through unprepared Downtown Ventura where they obeyed all traffic rules and chanted along the way.

“Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like,” some chanted as motorists honked and waved their encouragement.

“Future Feminist” was a sign displayed by a girl of about 4-years-old riding on her marching father’s shoulders.

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