What to know about the San Diego Women’s March in its third year

State Sen. Toni Atkins, who represents the 39th District, speaks to the crowd while in front of the County Administration Building, during the 2018 Women's March in San Diego.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Saturday will mark the third straight year that thousands of women take to the streets of San Diego County in January for the annual Women’s March. This year, marches in more than 100 American cities will happen as the national organization faces turmoil brought on by accusations of anti-Semitism and calls for national leaders to resign.

Locally, people will gather in San Diego and Oceanside to march.

Organizers for the San Diego march are distancing themselves from the national group, Women’s March Inc., and said in a statement that the San Diego organization “does not condone language or actions from any person or group that target, disparage, denigrate, threaten, or harm another person or group.”

For those looking forward to taking part in the march, here’s what to know.

When and where will the 2019 Women’s March take place?

Events in San Diego are set to get underway at 10 a.m. at Waterfront Park in Downtown. Speakers will take the stage at 11 a.m. and the march is slated to start at noon.

The North County Women’s March Rally will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Oceanside Civic Center at 300 North Coast Highway in Oceanside. Speakers will start at 10 a.m., followed by the march at 10:30 a.m.

What should I know about it?

Access to the events is free and no registration is necessary, but there will be T-shirts and other merchandise so attendees may want to bring money.

Those who wish to volunteer may do so by registering at the San Diego organization’s website.

The Metropolitan Transit System will have additional trains starting at 8 a.m. for those attending the San Diego march. For those attending the North County march, there will be complimentary buses taking participants from Oceanside to the San Diego march, but registration is encouraged.

Who will be attending and speaking?

The group of speakers at the San Diego march is expected to include prominent local leaders like state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, councilwomen Barbara Bry and Monica Montgomery, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, and state Assemblymembers Todd Gloria and Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher.

In North County, speakers include Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Vista Councilwoman Corrina Contreras, Escondido Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez and Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel.

What will be different this year?

The country is different than it was a year ago.

A record number of women are representing Americans in Congress. There are 131 as of this month. And the Women’s March comes more than a year after the so-called #MeToo movement rose to prominence and resulted in departures, arrests and convictions of men accused of sexual misconduct in many major American institutions.

Another key issue brought forward this year will be calls to renew the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law that funds resources for victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking. The VAWA expired as a result of the government shutdown in late December

But backlash has been brewing for close to a year over accusations of anti-Semitic sentiment among the top ranks of the leadership at the national level.

Teresa Shook, one of the founders of the Women’s March, in November called on other leaders to resign. In a Facebook post, Shook said leaders Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez “have steered the Movement away from its true course.”

Shook’s post came after antisemitic remarks black nationalist Louis Farrakhan made at an event that Mallory attended in February last year, The Washington Post reported. Mallory and Sarsour condemned anti-Semitism but did not renounce Farrakhan, the Post reported.

What do San Diegans say about that?

Two executive board members of the San Diego Women’s March, Monica Boyle and Frances Carrillo, say the march is still worth attending despite the controversy.

Boyle and Carrillo spoke to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s podcast “The Conversation.” Listen to what they had to say.

A San Diego Jewish woman, Myriam Miedzian, says she is saddened about the controversy surrounding the national movement. This year, she says, she won’t be joining the Women’s March. Listen to Miedzian’s conversation with us.

We asked a number of prominent leaders in San Diego to tell us their personal reasons for joining the march and whether they think the march is still worth joining:

Mara Elliot, San Diego City Attorney

Q: What is your personal reason to attend the Women's March?

Elliot: “One hundred years after women fought for and won the right to vote, we are still fighting for our most basic right – safety. I am marching because everyone has the right to walk down the street, live in their home, and dress how they choose without the fear of violence. That’s why my office is committed to holding abusers accountable for their crimes and supporting survivors every step of the way.”

Q: For those who have never attended or are on the fence, why do you think it's still worth attending?

Elliot: “With the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act and the current Administration’s proposed roll backs to Title IX that protect college rapists rather than rape victims, Women’s March San Diego gives us an opportunity to come together and speak with one voice to say we will not tolerate rape and abuse.”

Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Assemblywoman 80th District

Q: What is your personal reason to attend the Women's March?

Gonzalez-Fletcher: “My family and I will march again this year with thousands of San Diegans because it reminds us that the actual majority of this region, state and country share our values.”

Q: For those who have never attended or are on the fence, why do you think it's still worth attending?

Gonzalez-Fletcher: “We have to continue to remind this president that most of us believe in women’s reproductive freedom, that climate change is real and must be acted upon and that we are a fair and just people who need a fair and just immigration policy.”

Barbara Bry, San Diego City Council President Pro Tempore

Q: What is your personal reason to attend the Women's March?

Bry: "My mother, Adelaide Bry, was paid less than the comparable man and there was nothing she could do about it. Because of my mom, I have spent a large part of my life empowering other women—starting Athena San Diego, Run Women Run and the Workplace Equity Initiative.”

Q: For those who have never attended or are on the fence, why do you think it's still worth attending?

Bry: “By working together and marching together, we make each other stronger."

Vivian Moreno, San Diego City Councilwoman

Q: What is your personal reason to attend the Women's March?

Moreno: “Participating in the Women’s March is important to me because it sends a clear message to the President that women are not going to be silenced and bullied.

Q: For those who have never attended or are on the fence, why do you think it's still worth attending?

Moreno: “It is important for us to use this forum to unite against inequality. It is also important for me to bring my young nieces and nephew to the march so they can exercise their voice.”


Twitter: @RunGomez

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