Island men stood tall on the Beach Road sea wall in Vineyard Haven Saturday morning for the seventh annual demonstration against domestic violence.

Barney Zeitz was inspired by his daughter to join the demonstration. — Jeanna Shepard

“The seawall is here to protect the Island from waves and storms,” said Tisbury police Det. Max Sherman. “We have to be that same kind of protection. This is not just a women’s issue; it’s a men’s issue.”

Organized by Connect to End Violence, a program of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the demonstration was against violence but the message was affirmative. Wearing cargo shorts and boat shoes, reflective sunglasses and baseball caps, men held signs saying who they were there for — sisters, daughters and moms were all named. Mr. Sherman’s sign read: “My three girls.”

“It’s for my wife and two daughters,” he said. “One of them was just born a week ago.”

He said men need to be able to stand up to other men to stop the culture of violence, even in situations where the negative effects of a comment or a joke aren’t obvious.

“We need to get men together to find the courage to say hey, knock it off,” he said.

The sea wall was lined with pickup trucks and at least one motorcycle.

Members of Island law enforcement joined the demonstration, including Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain and Sterling Bishop who works for the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department. West Tisbury police Sgt. Garrison Vieira is part of Island law enforcement’s domestic violence team.

Standing tall, taking a stand. — Jeanna Shepard

“Once a month, we meet with CONNECT to discuss ongoing cases and support people who need it,” he said. Asked why he was there, he said, “I have a family. I care about this community.”

Barney Zeitz stood nearby with a sign reading, “Honor all women all tribes!” He said he was inspired by his daughter, Kaela Vecchia-Zeitz, to join the event two years ago. Kaela founded the anti-sexual violence student group at the high school as part of her senior project.

Mr. Zeitz wore a black CONNECT bracelet. “I got this bracelet last year and I never took it off,” he said.

More pictures from the demonstration.

Jim Austin said he saw the event advertised on a flyer and immediately decided to come. He held a hand lettered sign that said: “Honor all women.”

“This is the one time I’ve been happy to see a slow-down of traffic after the bridge,” he said. Cars honked as they drove by.

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Quentin Palfrey, county sheriff Bob Odgen, register of deeds Paulo DeOliveira and superior court clerk candidate Charles Morano also joined the demonstration.

Connect to End Violence program director Jennifer Neary said it was moving to see men take a stand. She said the Island group, Men Opposing Violence Everywhere on Martha’s Vineyard (MOVE) works with CONNECT to promote dialogue among men about the issue.

“We’re very lucky to have the community we do,” she said.