A proposed “Million Woman March” inspired by the “Million Man March” in Washington last fall will not take place this month in Los Angeles, after the Los Angeles Police Commission’s denial Tuesday of a permit for the event.
The denial of the permit to the march’s organizers, the South-Central-based magazine Freedom Journal and a civil rights group, followed the recommendation of Police Chief Willie Williams, who said the event’s organizers had not planned adequately for the march, and that the permit should be denied to protect marchers, participants and neighborhood residents.
Celes King III, California chairman of the sponsoring Congress of Racial Equality, accused the Los Angeles Police Department and commission of denying the permit because of fiscal constraints. “The bottom line is the police budget,” King said.
He said that despite the cancellation of the march planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a conference on family issues originally scheduled to coincide with the march will be held as planned June 14-16 in Exposition Park. “The conference was to be the substantive portion [of the event] anyway. The march itself was symbolic,” King said.
City officials who had been working with the march’s planners denied that money affected their permit decision. They said the denial was based solely on the lack of planning.
“I would’ve been prepared to be supportive, but [the organizers] refused to recognize that they didn’t adequately prepare for the event,” said City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the district where the march was to have taken place.
Police Capt. Sandy Wasson, head of the department’s tactical planning section, said the march organizers did not have a sufficient plan for assembling crowds, and that the group missed numerous deadlines at different phases of the permit application process. Wasson also said sponsors could not provide a reasonable attendance estimate. “They told me anything from 10,000 to 100,000 [attendees]. I find it difficult to plan for something that varies by a factor of 10,” Wasson said.
Gwendolyn Hughes, chairwoman of the event, said that up to 50,000 people will attend the conference, called the Multicultural Women’s March and Conference in Unity With Men.
The conference, which will be open to men, will address family issues such as domestic violence, crime and teenage pregnancy, she said.
All four commission members at Tuesday’s meeting voted to deny the permit. Commission President Deirdre Hill was absent. Commissioner Edith R. Perez said that efforts to help the organizers meet the requirements for a permit failed. “I think this board bent over backwards for the group,” she said.