By Serran Soledad
Around 40 people gathered at Bubbling Springs Park in Port Hueneme on Saturday to march for U.S Army specialist Vanessa Guillén, who was murdered by another soldier in Fort Hood, Texas back in April.
Organized by Oxnard Revolutionary Study Group, the action was part of a broader anti-imperialist campaign, demanding the removal of Military Recruiters and Police from local campuses. Just one night before the march, graffiti was spotted on the entrance wall of the Navy Base, reading “US Imperialism killed Vanessa Guillen.”
Speeches were given by activists and community members, connecting imperialist violence to the violence committed against women within the U.S military’s own ranks.
The crowd connected most with one speaker who touched on the predatory nature of military recruiters that target working class youth like Vanessa Guillen, offering enlistment as a way to escape economic hardship.
“Why do we have to fight [these imperial wars] to get a scrap of economic security” the speaker asked. “Why is it we have go to war to get a house, to get healthcare, to get dental care?”
Half an hour passed when protesters took the streets, chanting “Vanessa Guillen, Presente!”
From the beginning, there was a large Police presence with half a dozen patrol vehicles trailing the march from a distance, and a surveillance drone hovering overhead. This comes as no surprise in a time of rampant state repression, where over 14,000 protesters have been arrested across the country since the May Uprisings.
A banner that read “Smash Women’s Oppression!” lead the march through a residential neighborhood, where community members looked on from their yards, filming and cheering in support.
Near Ventura Road, a man in a Blue Kia exited his car and confronted the marchers for blocking traffic. A Marine Corp tattoo seen on his left forearm had people questioning if his arrival was premeditated.
A group of protesters approached the man yelling “fuck the military!” and telling him to get back in his car.
The police responded to this by pushing forward with batons and zip ties, looking for any excuse to repress the protesters, in the guise of protecting the reactionary who stood outnumbered 40 to 1.
Before it could escalate, the march continued towards the entrance of the Naval Base.
Ventura Road, which borders the base and spans through both Port Hueneme and Oxnard, was almost completely empty. The march not only forced the police to redirect traffic, but the Navy Base barricaded its entrance with cement blocks, on what is known to be their busiest Commissary day.
“We know that the U.S military is the enforcer of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism” said an activist, “and we know the sexist violence committed against Vanessa Guillen will exist as long as US imperialism exists.”
The energy rose higher as the crowd chanted, “Yankee Imperialismo, Fuera! Reclutadores, Fuera! Sexismo, Fuera!”
Before making their way back to Bubbling Springs Park, pictures of Vanessa Guillen, Gregory Morales, and Mehjor Morta (also found dead at Fort Hood within the last month) were placed at the Navy Base’s entrance.
This action saw one of the larger responses by local police in recent months due to the growing militancy of young people in Ventura County.