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There has only ever been one march for women in Humboldt County and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of.

 

Eureka Women’s March Protest surrounds truck that attempted to run over protesters as they crossed. EPD and journalists block 101 south.

The first “Women’s March On Eureka” event, held in January of 2017, was rife with oppressive policies that mirror the very system of patriarchy and white supremacy that fittingly places Donald Trump as the figurehead of the whole mess. The event was to not only include the grossly patriarchal and racist institution of the city police, it was to be led by it! And the organizers assigned official “monitors” to mix into the crowd and snitch to the police on any marchers who dared to “step out of line,” a line that was determined for us by the police.

The organizers did not reveal this information to prospective attendees until just two days before the event was supposed to happen. A “march” that was very clearly shaping up to be a parade for the patriarchy, one that was expressly permitted and regulated by the institution that most of us thought we were going out there to protest. The very institution that oppresses women, the group we’re supposed to be “marching” for.

I expressed my alarm at their choices to the organizers via their public event page. In response, they chastised me as “divisive” and quickly moved to silence me by removing my post. But they did not manage to get it down before it was noticed by a handful of folks who were also alarmed to learn of the organizers intentions. Folks who also recognize the systems and institutions that oppress us.

I was contacted by women of color who had been approached by the organizers to speak “for their people,” in an attempt to display racial inclusivity in the most tokenizing of ways. These women were contacted completely at random, based solely on their race, while never having put themselves forward as delegates for the people of their race. Furthermore, they were informed that if they were to speak at this “Women’s March,” they would be disallowed from expressing ideas ‘against’ anything, including Trump. They were told by the organizers to “keep it positive,” in an act of policing not only the messages that were supposed to represent the people of their races but also the emotions of participants. Just a whole lot of policing going on.

I also heard from folks concerned that women were being represented in a narrow way that sought to erase the voices and legitimacy of our trans sisters, which further reflects the system of patriarchy. Another important factor that event organizers had failed to mention was the colonization of the very ground we were to march upon, where indigenous peoples, the Wiyot, had enjoyed a home before white settlers brought their systems of terror and devastation.

With only one day until this charade of a parade was scheduled to take place, a handful of us decided to attempt to organize a protest. We posted a call-out for at least 50 people to commit to publicly protesting the policies of the event organizers and of the institution they were reinforcing, that of the partriarchal, colonial, white supremacist, capitalist, police-state. Within an hour we had our dedicated 50, and then some.

On the day of the event, nearly a hundred protesters gathered together on the waterfront of Eureka, under a banner that denounced the oppressive institutions that ultimately brought thousands out to the streets that day, even if not all in attendance fully understood what brought us there. As the parade passed, we raised our voices, chanting and singing our messages to the mostly silent crowd, which brought many smiles, nods of approval, handshakes, and hugs from them. Some joined our ranks and eventually we began to march, until it was time for the leaders of the parade, the Eureka City Police, to make a U-turn bringing them face-to-face with hundreds of us who let them know in no uncertain terms that we see who they are, we know what horrific systems they enforce, and we do not approve.

At that, we broke from the parade and marched ourselves out into the 101, luring the police away from the platform and pedestal they’d been provided by parade organizers. By my count, there were more than 300 of us chanting, singing, drumming, and dancing in the streets. Do not be fooled by lapdog media accounts that attempted to minimize our gathering by focusing on the few who chose to have themselves arrested that day. We made a large, jubilant, powerful display of resistance. We marched in solidarity with women and all other oppressed people that day. To my knowledge, it is the only women’s march to ever happen in Humboldt County because it was the only march in express resistance of patriarchy. For me, that march brought a lot more than a sense of empowerment and joy. It broadened and strengthened my connection with other solid resisters who I have had the pleasure and honor of organizing with over the past couple of years.

I’m pleased and relieved to see that the parade that deemed itself The Women’s March in Humboldt County finally had organizers with enough understanding of the oppressive systems we find ourselves in that they decided to cancel the event to draw attention to some of its flaws. As for the organizers who’ve decided to continue the tradition of ignorance this year, there will always be those. But it’s my deepest hope that soon enough, more and more people will wake up to the truth about our situation, and the resisters of these oppressive structures we’re all subject to will be enough to overcome those who uphold them. With that goal in mind, we must continue to work and fight our way toward freedom.

I recommend reading and organizing discussions of the following text for a quick study on the roots of patriarchy and how it is tied to all systems of oppression:
http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf

Bright Starling