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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Solidarity with San Quintín Farmworkers at Driscoll’s Distribution Center in Aromas, CA

Farmworkers in San Quintín, México are urging people throughout the world to Boycott Driscoll’s products, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

[ Demonstrators briefly block the entrance to the Driscoll’s Distribution Center in Aromas, California on October 15, 2016 in solidarity with farmworkers in San Quintín, Mexico leading an international boycott of Driscoll’s. ]

On October 15, 2016, about 40 people, including students from UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, and Watsonville High School, as well as community members from Santa Cruz and Watsonville, came out to the Driscoll’s Distribution Center and Berry Store in Aromas, California to relay the message that the boycott of Driscoll’s continues until Driscoll’s negotiates a union contract with the farmworkers in San Quintín, Mexico who harvest the lucrative berries. Currently, farmworkers receive as little as $6 a day for 12-15 hours of work, with no benefits or job security.

Demonstrators said the action was a great success and another step forward on the path to justice. Actions also occurred on October 15 in Bellingham, WA, Chicago, IL, New York City, NY, San Diego, CA, as well as in Mexico City, Tijuana, and Mexicali, Mexico.

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Boycott Driscoll’s Protest at Watsonville Strawberry Festival

A banner declaring “No More Blood Berries” hung from the most iconic buildings in downtown Watsonville, which hover over the Strawberry Festival and stand as subtle reminders of the apple industry in the Pájaro Valley.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets speaks with five people about the Driscoll’s Boycott in Strawberry Lane at the Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 6, 2016. ]

On August 6 and 7, 2016, local activists engaged thousands of people at the 22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival to raise awareness about the Driscoll’s Boycott and the harsh realities of farmworkers who pick the precious berries. The Boycott Driscoll’s movement is led by, and in solidarity with, farmworkers in San Quintín, México and Washington state fighting for union contracts.

Demonstrators, including the Watsonville Brown Berets, handed out thousands of flyers for Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent union formed by farmworkers in Washington state in July 2013. FUJ has over 450 members and holds elections as well as democratically run business meetings. FUJ maintains a website, Boycott Sakuma Berries, which is the best resource online for information in English about the ongoing labor struggle.

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Watsonville Brown Berets Keep Pressure on Driscoll’s

Solidarity with farmworkers in Washington state and Baja California leading the worldwide boycott of Driscoll’s berries.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets and Stephanie Irene of Direct Action Monterey Network hold signs, “Boycott Driscoll’s in Solidarity with San Quintín Farmworkers,” at the Freedom Blvd. entrance to Safeway in Watsonville, California. July 2, 2016. ]

The Watsonville Brown Berets are keeping the pressure on Driscoll’s, the world’s largest distributor of fresh berries, who are headquartered in Watsonville, California. On July 2, 2016, the Saturday before July 4th BBQs, the Brown Berets and other community members demonstrated in front of the Safeway on Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville to raise awareness and show solidarity with farmworkers in Washington state and Baja California leading the worldwide boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including all products made with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries sold by Driscoll’s.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) was formed by farmworkers in Washington state in July 2013, they have over 450 members, hold elections, and democratically run business meetings. FUJ maintains a website, Boycott Sakuma Berries, which is the best resource online for information in English about the ongoing labor struggle.

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Watsonville Vigil Remembers the Victims of Orlando

SOMOS LGBT vigil in Watsonville remembers “one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

[ Demonstrators send their love and solidarity from Watsonville, California to Orlando, Florida and the queer community everywhere. June 13, 2016. ]

SOMOS LGBT, a community organization raising awareness on equality and acceptance for all, began in Watsonville nine years ago. On the evening of June 13, SOMOS LGBT held a vigil at Watsonville Plaza to “remember one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

The day before on June 12, a mass shooting occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, resulting in 53 wounded and 50 dead, including the gunman, who was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

Community members from throughout Santa Cruz County gathered in Watsonville’s historic downtown Plaza to creatively express themselves through chants, singing, and holding signs to bring awareness of the continued attacks against LGBT people in this country.

Haley Brown of Santa Cruz held a sign reading “End Hate: racism • homophobia • transphobia • islamophobia.” Brown stated they stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the queer community everywhere.

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Driscoll’s Runs Away At Watsonville Earth Day

People started speaking about the Driscoll’s boycott, so Driscoll’s got rid of their strawberries and quickly left Watsonville Earth Day.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets holds a boycott Driscoll’s flyer in front of the Driscoll’s booth at Watsonville Earth Day. April 24, 2016. ]

As the top sponsor of Watsonville’s 14th Annual Earth Day / Day of the Child Festival, the philanthropy specialists at Driscoll’s were hopeful that April 24, 2016 would be a great day at Ramsay Park for promoting their brand. The event was advertised as a “free … local celebration of youth, environment and community … featuring live entertainment, low cost food, jump houses and fun activities with over 50 organizations.” When a few people started speaking about the international boycott of Driscoll’s and handing out flyers, the Driscoll’s representatives quickly dismantled their event booth and got rid of their strawberries as fast as they could. Driscoll’s packed everything up and left before three o’clock even though more than an hour remained of the four hour promotional event.

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Boycott Driscoll’s Outreach on Watsonville’s Main Street

Watsonville community members support the boycott against Driscoll’s, the world famous berry company headquartered in their town.

[ Emmanuel Ballesteros of the Watsonville Brown Berets, standing on the median of Main Street in Watsonville, California, holds a sign above his head declaring, “Respect the Farmworkers. Boycott Driscoll’s.” April 2, 2016. ]

Over 300 farmworker families in Burlington, Washington are currently waging a historic struggle for a union contract at Sakuma Brothers Farms. They are asking consumers to boycott Driscoll’s berries, which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), the farmworkers’ independent union, is fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from Sakuma from protected union activity.

Lázaro Matamoros from Oaxaca, México, a farmworker at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state and a rank and file union member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, held signs on Main Street in Watsonville on Saturday, April 2 to raise awareness in the community regarding “Driscoll’s Exploitation” from “Border to Border.” Matamoros was joined by fellow FUJ activists who are currently on a 28-day tour of the West Coast to energize a major offensive on the boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including a March 31 protest outside the company’s headquarters in Watsonville.

Pedestrians and passing motorists were very receptive to flyers handed out asking people to “Respect the families who grow your food. Don’t buy Driscoll’s.” People went out of their way to speak with demonstrators and learn more about the world famous berry company headquartered less than a mile away.

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