Photo credit: @La Hummingbird Flicks
By Serran Soledad
Last Saturday, community members protested outside the Santa Paula Police Department (SPPD), demanding the removal of newly hired Police Chief Travis Walker.
In 2019, Walker was dismissed from his position as police chief of Cathedral City following a lawsuit stemming from allegations of sexual harassment against a female officer. The announcement of his hiring drew backlash from the community, leading to Saturday’s protest.
Around 11:30am, a crowd consisting mostly of women formed at Veterans Memorial Park, just a block from SPPD. A local organizer, who co-runs the Facebook page Let’s Talk Santa Paula initially called for the protest.
Homemade signs reading, “Protect Women” and “Chief of Sexual Assault,” could be seen among the crowd, as well as a large banner baring the words, “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Travis Walker’s Got To Go!”
A woman activist from Oxnard Revolutionary Study Group (OxRevStudy) gave a speech to the crowd condemning Walker, as well as Santa Paula City Manager Daniel Singer, who hired the new police chief.
After rallying for about 25 minutes, protesters marched from the park to the front of the police station, chanting “How do you spell rapist? S-P-P-D” and “Fight the cops give them hell! It is right to rebel!”
Dozens of cars honked their horns in support, as the march passed along a busy road facing the station. The OxRevStudy activist continued agitating over the megaphone “He [Walker] deserves to get fired immediately, he deserves worse than that!”
A Santa Paula woman told Tribune, “The police already don’t do anything as far as believing women, I know a lot of women personally who have stood up and tried reporting their rapist in Santa Paula, and nothing’s happened at all. The police don’t care about us, and they especially don’t care about working class women.”
Another community member told Tribune that he didn’t trust local ruling class media, “Its kind of sad because you read the Santa Paula Times here in town, and they won’t cover these kind of stories, they stay away from it. They call themselves a newspaper that covers what’s going on the city, but they actually don’t.”
The protest was concluded with a march back to Veterans Memorial Park.
Despite growing public pressure, the City of Santa Paula has yet to remove Travis Walker as Police Chief. In an act of political theater, the city has instead announced a Q&A Zoom conference set for February 10, where Walker will be “sitting down to answer any and all of Santa Paulans’ questions.”
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