Malibu Turns Out for LA Women’s March

Last Saturday’s LA Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles drew hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters from all walks of life. At over 200 demonstrations around the world, Reuters news service reported that nearly five million people turned out — over three million from the U.S. alone. News sources are now calling it the largest protest in the country’s history.

“We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country,” reads the march’s mission statement. The march just so happened to take place the day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.

Pink knitted caps with cat ears, nicknamed “pussyhats,” became the overriding symbol worn by marchers across the country. A number of protest signs carried at the march made comments about Trump that could not be repeated in this publication, and some of the criticism was aimed at the Republican-dominated Congress and the cabinet nominees — not just the president. 

At least 40 and probably many more Malibu residents attended one of the 200 women’s marches across the country — mostly in LA, but over a half-dozen went to the main march in Washington D.C., and at least one participated in Park City, Utah, during the Sundance Film Festival. Most traveled with their families or small groups.

Many of the older women who participated from Malibu were dismayed about having to defend the same rights again — more than 40 years after many of those hard-fought rights for women had been won.

“I felt very strongly that women had been silenced for too long, and that organizations for women that had been outspoken in the past seemed quiet, like they were no longer alive,” Paula Mae Schwartz, Malibu resident and CEO of Chockstone Pictures, said. “I can tell you that the inauguration speech upset and motivated people, especially women, who are starting to realize that all of the rights they’d fought for [are at risk]. We’re not going to be silent anymore, and we don’t want to step backwards — what really bothers me is this march should’ve happened before the election.” 

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The organizer of a group of volunteer Democrats calling itself “Team Malibu” (not to be confused with the team that recently elected three members of Malibu City Council), Lexi Aria, is also a Malibu resident and self-described Iranian of Jewish heritage, who was the victim of an apparent hate crime some years ago. She organized a number of Malibu people to attend the march and emailed the following statement:

“Some of us are still not ready to let go of the Obama era. So, this march was also a way to deal with President Obama no longer being our shepherd and keeper,” Aria wrote. “Now, we no longer have a just leader.

“At the march, the feeling of unity and respect for humankind was palpable,” she continued. “We were filled with love and acceptance of each other’s diversities — it was truly special and beautiful.”

Dana Weinberg, another Malibu resident and an immigrant to the U.S. years ago, went to the march with husband Steve and said most of her 238 Facebook friends also marched. 

“After the election, I felt I was in the minority. I thought, ‘How could this happen?’” Weinberg said. “My politics, my way of life, my ideas about racism and feminism, which is what America represented to me as an immigrant [seemed to be at risk. Trump] represented an immediate threat to all the things that made America great — grabbing people by the genitals, wanting to register Muslims, etc. I went to the march because I wanted to make my voice heard.”

Malibuite Ted Vaill attended with his family members.

“I went to the Women’s March because Donald Trump is an illegitimate president,” Vaill wrote in an email to The Malibu Times, later adding, “The march has activated the citizens of the U.S. and the world to protest against this dangerous tyrant in training.”

Karen Farrer, a Malibu resident heavily involved in Malibu schools, participated in the march with a group of eight people from Malibu, including two high school students. Both of her daughters went with a separate group. She explained in an email why she participated in the march.

“I went in solidarity with my fellow Americans — men, women and children — who stand against intolerance,” Farrer wrote. “I wanted to make sure people know that I do not consider the new administration representative of my values. I fear for the safety of the world and the quality of life we now enjoy.”

Farrer said that in going to the march, “I got a huge sense of the people, not just in Los Angeles, but all over the world, who feel the same way I do and are working for positive change. Freedom is already eroding and we must take it back.”

Ann P. Meredith, director/writer/ producer and founder of Swordfish Productions, attended both the Washington D.C. march and the inauguration protest and said the march versus the inauguration were like “night and day.”

Inauguration day in D.C. was not peaceful, Meredith described. 

“One man threatened to hit me because he was angry about the things we were chanting. He told me to shut the f— up,” Meredith said. “It was, ‘Welcome to your first day, we are not going away.’ People had horrible, hateful t-shirts on. The streets were filled with military and three lines of cops on both sides. People protesting the pipeline were surrounded by the police.”

Meredith went on to describe the inclusiveness of the Saturday march, saying “everyone was there together supporting each other. The message was that, ‘If you build the wall, we have ladders. If you require Muslims to register, we will all register.’”

Many Malibu residents chose not to march, some because — according to their posts on social media — they believed marchers were hateful.

“What I saw and heard were people and signs demonstrating hatred and sarcasm towards our president, and teaching their children, friends and family to hate. So what was with the pink hats? Let’s be honest people! What was the goal?” one woman posted on Facebook. Several others agreed, saying the marches across the country were an “excuse for demonstrating hatred of our new president.”

Farrer responded to them, saying it was an inclusive event.

“It was a non-partisan march. All were welcome. I wish you’d joined us … Saturday was the largest march since the Vietnam War protests, and was a stance against intolerance, hate, divisiveness, conflicts of interest, nepotism, defunding of healthcare and the arts, repression of a free press, ‘alternative facts’ and the values of the millions of women and men who marched worldwide,” Farrer wrote, “and in LA, all without a single arrest. Hope that helps.”

“The LA March was so amazing and such a mix of people — young and old, and all races,” Jill Greenberg, who runs the Malibu Learning Center, said, “It was really about looking at the crowd.”

Trump’s reaction to the worldwide marches was described by national media as both “mixed” and “dismissive.”

On Monday, his third day in office, the LA Times reported Trump signed an order reinstating a policy that the U.S. government will not contribute to nongovernmental groups  abroad that “perform or actively promote abortion.”

Trump also took a step aimed at President Obama’s signature achievement by signing an executive order directing federal agencies to take steps to “ease the burden of Obamacare” — affordable healthcare coverage that millions of women and their families have come to rely on.

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