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San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara Women's Marches attract thousands

An estimated 10,000 women, men and children turned out Saturday to participate in the Women’s March San Luis Obispo. Another estimated 10,000 people attended the Santa Barbara march. Similar events took place around the world and in many U.S. cities; all were sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the nation’s capitol one day after the presidential inauguration. 

As they walked the circular route through downtown San Luis Obispo, KCBX asked marchers why they had joined the event. Here is a montage of their answers:

“Because I'm angry at what's happened in my country and our lives.”

“Our bodies are not your political battleground.”

“I'm a first generation immigrant family and I came with my son.”

“I’m basically supporting the rights of my mom, my girlfriend, my sister and everybody else.”

“I have had a renewed sense of being more involved in my community in the last couple of months.”

“We're here because we are hoping for a good future and we're hoping that despite the fear that we all have... a lot of us are really afraid…”

“We don't want to fight for all this crap all over again. We're older, we've been through all of it. We've been through the sexual harassment at work. We've been through not being treated equal. And we don't want to go backwards.”

“I'm just out here because I have to support, basically, us. You know it's not just supporting women, it's supporting our whole community as a people. Women are the fairer sex, and I think that really they get most of the stuff done around this country.”

“Because of the problems we're facing that are just so terribly serious, and I'm very concerned...depressed.”

“Silence is no longer an option, and I march for the planet. Love is a force and the force is with us.”

“I’d just like to say that I'm sorry that the short fingered vulgarian brought all this rain, but we're glad we're out here demonstrating against him.”

“I do think we need to stand together and fight any kind of evil that we see it, so we're here in force."

People started gathering at San Luis Obispo’s Mitchell Park around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Once the march was underway, there were so many people that at one point police stopped the front of the procession, holding the crowds back for about 15 minutes to allow the tail end to clear the return route.

After trekking and chanting their way around downtown in the pouring rain, some marchers stuck around for post-march activities at Mitchell Park, where there was entertainment, informational booths and food trucks.

With the march completed, KCBX caught up with organizers Jen Ford and Dawn Addis to ask how they were feeling.

“Amazing!” Addis said.

“I’m in awe,” Ford said.

“I just think that there's no ignoring us. There are marches worldwide. They started early - early for us - this morning in New Zealand. They've been rolling across the globe, San Luis Obispo added ten thousand people to that...there's absolutely no ignoring what we want, which is a positive vision for our future... unity, inclusion and pro-peace moving forward," Addis said.  

When Addis and Ford visited the KCBX studio on January 3, at that time they were hoping for 5000 people. By the day of the march, 8000 had pre-registered. KCBX asked a San Luis Obispo police officer stationed along the route if police had a crowd count.

“Last week it was 7,000-plus, but what we heard is that it’s probably more,” the officer said.

At Saturday's march there was a total lack of any kind of antagonism. No marchers were carrying pro-Trump signs; no one was protesting the march’s message of unity and peace. And police did not receive any reports of trouble.

KCBX asked organizers Addis and Ford what's next for them.

“Keep checking our Facebook. We're still connected with the national movement, with the state movement. That movement is the Women’s March on Washington. We're going to keep this thing rolling,” Addis said. 

“This is only the beginning,” Ford said. “This is definitely not the end. So hear our voice."

[Editor's note: We've created a brief slideshow of pictures from the San Luis Obispo march. If you have great photos of the event, or pictures of sister marches in other Central Coast cities, please send them to news@kcbx.org. We will add photos to the slideshow as they become available.]