Images by Andrew Goff
Despite the the cold, wet weather, nearly 900 people gathered at the Madaket Plaza in Eureka today, joining hundreds of other cities across the country for the third annual Women’s March.
It is difficult to say if it was the rain or the recent controversy over the event, but the crowd was significantly smaller than the last two years. The 2017 march drew an estimated 5,000 people and last year’s numbers were in the thousands as well.
Co-organizer Kathy Srabian acknowledged that “between the weather and the confusion” the turnout was sparser than expected. But considering it was thrown together last minute and with little resources, Srabian told the Outpost that she was happy that it was able to happen at all.
And it does seem that odds were stacked against today’s march. The original organizers announced a decision to cancel the Jan. 19 march, citing a lack of diversity among the planners. After a new group of organizers decided to revive the march, the original organizers announced that they would be boycotting the event.
On top of all of that, one of the organizers, former Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins, had a heart attack last weekend. Srabian told the Outpost that Atkins is resting and doing much better.
The event began with a small group of speakers at the plaza, including Lisa Stephenson of the Wiyot Tribal Nation, KHUM DJ and activist Amy Berkowitz, and student and activist Aundrea Stuckey. Stuckey shared of her experiences growing up as a black woman in Humboldt County, fittingly addressing the need for the community to nurture diversity.
“I want to acknowledge the oppression and genocide that has affected the indigenous people of this land,” Stuckey said to the crowd. “It is this history of and continued narrative of white supremacy that still oppresses people of color in the area today.”
Stuckey also commended the organizers who revived the march for trying to reach out and “include more voices from marginalized community members.” She said that it gave her hope to see a group of allies try to do better, after being shamed for not having representation from more diverse groups.
“They showed willingness to admit a mistake. To connect across differences to rectify a situation that some feel is still unrectifiable,” she said. (Hear Stuckey’s comments in their entirety in the clip below.)
Following the speeches, the crowd left the plaza and marched down the waterfront toward the Carson Mansion, signs waving. There were noticeably less “pink pussy” hats represented than past years. Instead, many wore red in solidarity of missing and murdered indigenous women.
At one point some marchers went down the wrong route. Sgt. Le France of the EPD told the Outpost that after some brief confusion, he and the other officers were able to successfully redirect them to the original route.
Srabian couldn’t help but laugh at the slight chaos. “Looking back there’s things I could have done better,” she said about the march. But she said this was a learning experience.
All those who spoke today encouraged everyone to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. march and celebration on Monday, January 21. The original organizers are also planning a march for International Women’s day on March 9.
Scroll down for photos of today’s event.