Huge Turnout for Women’s March Santa Cruz County

Tens of thousands overfilled the streets of Santa Cruz for the historic Women’s March Santa Cruz County, held in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington.

[ Vera and Liz in Watsonville Plaza on January 21, 2017. La Mujer Es La Fuerza. Solidarity with Standing Rock. Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Defend the Land. Protect the Water. ]

Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life overfilled the streets of downtown Santa Cruz on January 21 for the historic Women’s March Santa Cruz County, held in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington and hundreds of other Women’s Marches.

Prior to the march, over a hundred people rallied at the Watsonville Plaza before boarding a bus to Santa Cruz, which was provided by the organizers.

The crowd in Santa Cruz was huge, with official estimates ranging from 8,000 – 16,000 people, though it seemed like much more than that. Many estimate there were well over 25,000 people marching. Ralph Abraham, the famous mathematician and chaos theorist and professor at UC Santa Cruz since 1968, determined there were over 27,000 people participating in the event. A thick stream of marchers flowed down Pacific Avenue for over an hour and a half.

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In Memory of Louis LaFortune, Compassionate Peace Activist

“Louis was a teacher who was fiercely dedicated to justice. He was always supportive and involved in our community work and campaigns.” -Jenn Laskin

[ Louis LaFortune, a volunteer with Guitars not Guns and many other causes, plays guitar at a peace rally on August 2, 2015 in front of the Collateral Damage statue in Santa Cruz to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Photo by Alex Darocy. ]

Louis LaFortune, known to many as Louie LaFortune, passed away unexpectedly on the morning of March 13, 2016 at his family home in Live Oak, a small community nestled between Santa Cruz and Capitola. Register-Pajaronian reports that he died in his home after suffering heart trouble. His family states that he passed quickly without pain or discomfort. Louis’s untimely passing, at the young age of 64, was a sad shock for his family and wide circle of friends.

Louie was a popular teacher at New School, a small high school for at-risk students in Watsonville. Before launching his second career as a teacher — the first was as an auto mechanic — he was a long-standing and dedicated member of the Free Radio Santa Cruz collective, also known as Freak Radio and FRSC.

In 2003, Louie created the Resistance and Renewal program on FRSC, a listener supported and unlicensed “pirate” radio station broadcasting from Santa Cruz since 1995. To the greater community, he was a major advocate of the station, however more importantly Louie often served as a mediator within the dynamic collective when disagreements arose or personalities conflicted.

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Peace and Unity March 2013 in Watsonville and Pajaro

More than 150 people participated in the annual march to commemorate the lives of community members who have been killed since 1994.

On November 2, 2013, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, more than 150 people participated in the annual Peace and Unity March in Watsonville to commemorate the lives of community members who have been killed since 1994. That year, Watsonville youth organized the first Peace and Unity March to address ongoing violence in the community, particularly after the slaying of 9 year-old Jessica Cortez and her 16 year-old brother, Jorge Cortez.

The Peace and Unity Coalition includes local youth, community groups and families who have lost loved ones to violence. The Coalition says the march provides “a safe space for families of victims and our local community to come together to organize an event to speak out against violence in the streets of South Santa Cruz County.”

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Ground the Drones Demonstration on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz

While participants held over 150 placards, one person chanted to pedestrians on Pacific, “These are the names of some of the kids killed by U.S. drones.”

On Friday, March 1, from 5-6 p.m., Women In Black of Santa Cruz, along with other peace groups, demonstrated at the corner of Cooper and Pacific in downtown Santa Cruz to call for an end to the U.S. drone program and to tell the government and President of the United States, “Ground the drones! Stop killing children and other innocent people!”

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Peace and Unity March 2012 in Watsonville

Over 350 people marched in the annual Peace and Unity March on the unusually hot Sunday afternoon of September 30, 2012 in downtown Watsonville, CA.

Over 350 people marched in the annual Peace and Unity March on the unusually hot Sunday afternoon of September 30, 2012 in downtown Watsonville, CA. This year’s march was held to protest gang and domestic violence in the community of Watsonville, and was organized by the Watsonville Peace & Unity Coalition, which was initiated by the Watsonville Brown Berets. The turnout was significantly larger than previous years, due to recent violence, a larger coalition including the City of Watsonville, and well-organized outreach throughout Watsonville.

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18th Annual Peace & Unity March in Watsonville

To honor victims of gang-related violence and push for an end to the violence in the community.

Article by Heather R. Putnam; photos by Bradley Stuart

On Saturday, October 29, the 18th Annual Peace & Unity March was held in Watsonville, California. The march was organized by the Autonomous Chapter of the Watsonville Brown Berets in collaboration with White Hawk Danza Azteca to honor victims of gang-related violence in Watsonville and to push for an end to the violence in the community. The opening ceremony at Watsonville Plaza began with a blessing song performed by local drummers. Following that, Sandino Gómez, historian for the Watsonville Brown Berets, recounted how the march began in 1994 to honor Jessica and Jorge Cortéz, 16 and 9 years old, who were gunned down execution-style because they had witnessed a gang–related crime. Gómez emphasized that “violence is not the solution” and that everyone present “must be part of the solution”. A representative of the mothers of victims, Rose de Ramirez, who lost her son to gang-related violence sixteen years ago, emphasized, “We need support from the community to stop violence”.

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WikiLeaks Solidarity in Santa Cruz: Exposing the Truth is Not a Crime!

Dozens of people came together in Santa Cruz on January 8th to rally at the clock tower and march down Pacific Avenue in solidarity with WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning. Protesters lined Mission St. with homemade signs in defense of free speech and calling for the prosecution of U.S. government war crimes.

WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, is an international non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. As a direct result of the effectiveness of WikiLeaks, the organization is receiving significant persecution from the U.S. government and numerous transnational corporations.

For example, the U.S. State Department asserts that WikiLeaks is not a media organization, and Julian Assange is not a journalist. On December 2nd, 2010, Philip J. Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, stated, “WikiLeaks is not a media organization. That is our view.” In regard to Assange, Crowley said, “Well, his – I mean he could be considered a political actor. I think he’s an anarchist, but he’s not a journalist.”

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