Following a triple protest weekend last week, officials are gearing up for additional protest activity as both sides of the political divide descend on Santa Monica during a busy weekend. 

During the weekend of July 9/10, Santa Monica saw an anti-abortion protest march through the Promenade, a pro-choice march move between the Santa Monica and Venice Piers and a protest outside the Nike store targeting the use of kangaroos for leather soccer shoes. All three were peaceful but residents voiced concern about some individual behaviors and the presence of dangerous items. 

This weekend, a “Patriot Pride Event” will be held on the 1500 block of Palisades Park. Organizers have said the event will feature a number of political candidates and is not focused on Planned Parenthood. Nor are participants planning to walk on the Promenade. 

However, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and other women’s rights and pro-abortion activists will be mobilizing to protect the Santa Monica Planned Parenthood from what they describe as anti-abortion and pro-Trump fanatics. 

Maricruz Lopez organizer for BAMN said, “We call on all those who support women’s rights and human rights for all to join our community defense guard to defend the Planned Parenthood in Santa Monica this Saturday. We will not allow Pro-Trump misogynist bigots to harass and intimidate women, the Planned Parenthood, and anyone seeking care at the Planned Parenthood. We refuse to live in a society that says, as the Supreme Court has said, that women have no rights the institutions of our society are bound to respect. Our mass independent movement will fight to defend women’s rights and their right to abortion by any means necessary! We will not allow Trump bigots to get away with attacking women’s rights in our state.”

Some residents criticized the local police response to last week’s protests saying some participants on the Promenade vandalized property, carried weapons and intimidated visitors. 

Lt. Rudy Flores said officers must balance safety with First Amendment protections. 

“The priority at the SMPD, and the City of Santa Monica is the safety of our residents and visitors while supporting peaceful protests, public assemblies and the rights of all individuals when exercising their First Amendment right to free speech,” he said. “First Amendment activity is protected and can occur without a permit from the city.”

SMPD is not specifically informed of protest activity beforehand but does monitor social media channels and other forums for information about planned protests. When possible, they have contacted organizers ahead of time to inform them of local ordinances and for this Saturday, they said they hope both groups will keep their distance from each other. 

Following the riots of 2020, Santa Monica passed a temporary ordinance banning items that could become makeshift weapons from protests. However, those rules expired in June of this year. Flores said a new ordinance will be presented to council soon.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...