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Community marches in solidarity for sexual violence awareness

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Photos by Trevor Ryan

The Gender Sexuality & Equity Center ended their Take Back the Night week of events with a candle-lit march and vigil to show solidarity with survivors, and give bystanders the courage to speak out against sexual assault and violence.

“We want survivors to find a sense of community,” said Emilee Hunt, GSEC’s women’s programs coordinator. She said the event was meant to give information and courage to “act against even micro-versions of rape culture.”

Thursday’s main event was capped off with the annual silent, candlelit march. Students and community members gathered at the Student Services Center Plaza, some with protest boards.

“I felt like crying the whole time,” said Katelyn Sumers, a Chico State junior. “I live on Nord and I’m scared to walk down the street literally three minutes to [my friend’s] house.”

Hunt addressed the crowd at the SSC Plaza before the march.

“We are all here in the spirit of hope,” she said. “We are hopeful that one day women and all genders can walk down a dark street without fear. We are hopeful that by coming out and speaking out, we empower not only ourselves, but others to follow in our footsteps.”

Participants lit their candles, and had a moment of silence for victims of violence and sexual assault. With that, the silent march made its way down Ivy Street.

However, catcalls and crass jokes broke the silence, giving testament to the necessity of the event.

Roxanne Luppino, a Chico State senior said a man outside of Riley’s Pub said to the participants waiting to cross the street, “I respect you women, but come on. Really?”

“That kind of behavior proves that events like this are necessary,” she said. “If you really can’t see that this was needed, you should open your eyes.”

Phera Knox, a Redding native who now lives in Chico saw a different side of the community and how they viewed the issues of sexual assault.

“For me, tonight made me realize how much we really need feminism,” Knox said. You could tell that the people walking around the bars still think that this was ridiculous that we were doing this. I just hope that one day they will understand.”

For some students it was about facing their past experiences with sexual assault.

“Tonight meant a great deal to me,” said Niki Richards, who will be transferring to Chico State in the fall. “Personally, I have experienced sexual assault and that was something I had to confront.”

After the march returned to the SSC Plaza participants simultaneously blew out their candles, and with that, Emilee Hunt sent participants off with a simple message.

Speaking softly into a megaphone, Hunt said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Dylan de Wit can be reached at [email protected] or @DylanTdeWit on Twitter.

 

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Community marches in solidarity for sexual violence awareness