Showing Up for Racial Justice national day of action rally advocates for Black Lives Matter movement
A group of around 60 Showing Up for Racial Justice demonstrators gathered last night to protest the current state of the local and national policing system.
The protesters peacefully gathered at the corner of Congress Street and Granada Avenue to verbalize and explain their list of demands for the both the Tucson Police Department, specifically, and police departments throughout the country. Their demands were as follows:
- An end to state violence against black people, particularly from police
- A transformation of policing in our society, so that it no longer serves as an agent of anti-black oppression
- Public officials must commit to taking clear, concrete steps toward reducing state violence against black people in every town, city, county and state, inviting the Tucson Chief of Police Chris Magnus to join their efforts
The rally was just one of 80 demonstrations affiliated with SURJ's national day of action, which was formed to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a post on the group's website.
Demonstrators, led by a female volunteer from the crowd, started the rally by chanting, “Black lives, they matter here, black lives matter everywhere! What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!”
Both families and individuals came out to support the SURJ rally. Parents and kids stood on the sidewalk along Congress Street holding signs toward the busy rush hour traffic.
Many drivers honked their car horns as they drove by to show support for the group and their message.
Group members would hold up the “peace” sign in return for their show of support.
Nathan Watts (pictured), a coordinator with the Tucson chapter of SURJ, planned the demonstration. He became involved in the racial justice movement after the shootings in Ferguson, Missouri back in August 2014.
After seeing the police response to the uprisings that took place in St. Louis — and the brutality officers used to quell the protests — he got involved in SURJ. His goal is to get SURJ onto campus and to get students more involved in its movement toward freedom.
Community members, including reverends and pastors, among others, came to show their support. Rev. Ron Phares and Rev. Matthew Funke Crary attributed their rally attendance to their desire for racial justice. “Until black lives matter, not all lives matter,” they said to the crowd.
Many of the attendees were there to increase their activism networks in order to do more effective social justice work. Allison Harrington, who spoke to the crowd earlier in the day, reached out to attendees to see what more she could do in the community.