Long Beach marchers to join hundreds of other events nationwide protesting anti-abortion laws

Shortly after a restrictive abortion law in Texas went into effect earlier this month, and the United States Supreme Court declined to block it, the Women’s March national organization put out a call for action. Belmont Heights resident, C.J. Crockett, had never organized anything political but she responded to the email with a request to host an event in Long Beach.

On Saturday Oct. 2 Crockett and hundreds of others are expected to march through Long Beach in hopes of spurring action at the federal level to ensure that there is safe access to abortions for all women and to signal that “attacks on reproductive rights will not be tolerated,” Crockett said.

The march is being held two days before the Supreme Court reconvenes.

Crockett explained that her great-grandmother died of an illegal abortion, and her great-grandfather “died of a broken heart” shortly after. That left her grandmother, the oldest of the six children they left behind, to figure everything out. Crockett doesn’t want another family to have to face an outcome like that.

“It’s really important to me that every individual in this country has the opportunity to have safe choices in regard to how they choose to take care of their reproductive health,” Crockett said Monday.

The march is scheduled to start outside the George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown before ending at Harvey Milk Park where there will be speakers and live music.

“Abortion care is a critical component of healthcare,” state Senator Lena Gonzalez, one of the scheduled speakers, said in a release from the march organizers. “It needs to be equitable and accessible for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. California has been a leader in reproductive freedom and we will continue fighting these national attacks that threaten the quality of life for so many in our state and country.”

Saturday’s march is expected to be one of over 600 that are happening across the country this weekend, including one in the nation’s Capitol, in response to Texas’ Senate Bill 8, which bans most abortions after about six weeks and allows citizens to sue clinics and others who violate it.

The 55-year-old Crockett said she applied to host the event without ever having planned a march of any kind. Her marching career began when she turned 50 when her mother, who was in her 80s, got her involved.

She got to work with her business partner, Christine Surgy, and Christine’s mother, Carol, right away. One of the first questions they asked was who did they know that could help? They reached out to former Long Beach Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce who has now become one of the lead organizers of the event.

Pearce said that she knew there was an appetite for these kinds of marches in Long Beach because the city had sponsored bussing residents to similar events in Los Angeles in multiple years.

This project was personal for Pearce who is from Texas and said she has had an abortion in the past and knows the challenges of getting around restrictions meant to prevent them.

The march is expected to be a sidewalk march, meaning streets won’t be blocked off, Pearce said, and the event has already received several hundred RSVPs. The event is looking for volunteers to help with set-up and clean-up as well as marshaling, Pearce said.

“We want this to be a march that really belongs to everyone,” Pearce said.

Crockett said she hopes that the march can serve as an educational opportunity for the community, but also a prod to the Supreme Court that it needs to take action on state laws that are aimed at making abortions illegal.

“What’s going on in our individual states is not OK,” she said. “We are more than concerned In some cases people are terrified.”

A link to RSVP for the march can be found here. Organizers are asking that attendees wear masks and bring water. 

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.