San Diego — Sunday morning, March 12, started a little overcast, but that didn’t keep people from coming out for the 10 a.m. kick-off rally for the March for Black Womxn (M4BW) 2023.
The rally was held on University Avenue outside Fatuma’s, an African restaurant in City Heights, a culturally rich neighborhood in San Diego.
Rally co-chair Nyisha Geedoubleu welcomed everyone present in person and those watching live on Facebook before introducing the march security team leader, who welcomed representatives from the Kumeyaay Nation to deliver a message of support and solidarity.
It was important to organizers to acknowledge, recognize, and show respect to the Indigenous people who have lived on this “land we are standing on” since the beginning of time.
This will be the fourth annual M4BW in San Diego. The organizers — Nyisha and Christina Griffin — spoke about the challenges encountered in making the final decision to have the women’s march in the midst of the ongoing pandemic that continues to plague our communities. It’s been three years since the last M4BW march, and we mourn those who are not physically with us and are grateful for everyone who came out to join us in person and those joining virtually.
Nyisha reminded us that the march was originally held on March 10, Harriet Tubman day. The 2018 and 2019 marches were held on March 10, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. This year March 10 was on a Friday, which was not a good day to have a march, but then again, this march, as with previous marches, continues to honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman.
The rally speakers addressed a multitude of issues related to racism, women and incarceration, medical neglect, police brutality, and domestic violence, with an emphasis on Trans Womxn and racist migrant detention centers that house Womxn and separate children from their families.
The family of Muma Kuri, a Somali woman found dead in her City Heights apartment on March 7, 2019, reported that justice was served. After three years of fighting, the killer, her husband, was convicted of first-degree murder in November of 2022 and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.
On the issue of migrant detention, Christina spoke of CCA San Diego Detention Facility. This privately owned corporation works under contract with ICE to house immigrant detainees in downtown San Diego. ICE officers decide the bond amounts for the release of detainees who are fighting their cases in immigration court. Bails for Black migrants are excessively higher than for non-Black migrants. The non-profits that raise money will bail out migrants with lower bonds, which means that many Black migrants could be detained indefinitely and then deported. The conditions in these detention centers are unbearably inhumane.
Why we march without a permit
Christina explained why we are marching in the streets without a permit or police escorts: “Our first M4BW was in March of 2018. The city of San Diego approached the 2018 San Diego Women’s March organizers and gave them a permit and protection for free. When Nyisha went downtown to apply for a permit for our M4BW, they told her it would be $5,000. The $5,000 was to pay for police who would protect us.” The San Diego Women’s march was predominately white, so essentially white women were given a permit and protection by the police. Black Womxn were not given permission and must pay for police protection.
The M4BW is an anti-police march. We do not need or want police protection, nor do we need permission to march in our streets. The San Diego Black Panther Party and the Brown Berets provided security and safety, monitored and directed traffic during the 1.5-mile march down University Avenue, a major street in City Heights. There were also medics available to assist during the rally and march. It was a vibrant, high-energy march.
After the rally, the March for Black Womxn, organized by and led by Black Womxn, began. Christina explained the significance of the M4BW chant: “Say Her Name.” Black Womxn, especially Black Trans Womxm murdered by state sanction, intimate partner, and inter-communal violence, were ignored in spaces where people lifted up those killed by state-sanctioned violence. The call and response chant began with saying the name of a Black Womxn killed by police, and marchers responded with “SAY HER NAME.”
Close to a hundred people were marching down University Avenue, chanting “Say Her Name” as the names of Black Womxn killed by state-sanctioned murder were shouted, stopping briefly as intersections were cleared by security for safe passage. The names of Black women included Cashay Henderson, and Jasmine Mack, both transgender women in Milwaukee and Washington, respectively.
Everyone made it to City Heights park to meet up with other M4BW organizers already preparing for an afternoon of entertainment and a closing rally.
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