NEWS

Hundreds gather outside Tucson City Hall to protest Trump's rally in Phoenix

The "Tucsonans Against Racism Protest and Rally" in downtown Tucson on Aug. 22 filled two sides of Congress Street near the Pima County Superior Court Building. The protest was started because of Trump's visit to Phoenix happening the same day. 

More than 500 people protested at the Tucsonans Against Racism Protest and Rally in response to President Donald Trump's speech at the Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday, August 22.

The peaceful protest took place in front of the Arizona Superior Court building where protesters lined both sides of Congress Street.

"I've seen this kind of battle over the soul of America," said Mary Toren, who protested against the Vietnam War and was a poll watcher in the 70s.

Toren protested because she felt it was time to add her voice to the chorus given the mounting contention in today's political environment. She said wanted to protest as someone who values diversity, not someone who hates.

RELATED: Column: Protests crucial to politics, divisive without empathy

"If we start hating [hate groups], then we become part of the problem," Toren said. "We can disagree with them, we can resist them, but we can’t adopt hate and say that we’re the good guys. There is a point in which we need to take a stand against Nazism, against racism, against a President who brags about being a sexual assaulter."

First-time rallier Amanda Freed handed out yellow Jewish stars which people pinned to their clothing, mimicking the stars the Jews were forced to wear during World War II.

Freed, scared by the recent events in Charlottesville, doesn't want Jews to be silent anymore.

"In my lifetime, I haven’t heard people like they were in Charlottesville with torches screaming 'Jew'," Freed said. "I grew up with concentration camp survivors, and now I know concentration camp deniers, and we can’t be silent anymore.

Multiple people were outraged by Trump's handling of Charlottesville and scheduling the rally in Phoenix so soon after the event.

Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

London Emerson, age five, holds up a sign and picks up buttons at the "Tucsonans Against Racism Protest and Rally" in downtown Tucson, Aug. 22. 

"It doesn’t look good whether you agree with Trump or not, whether you stand on the left or the right or you’re a moderate in the middle part of the spectrum," Katya Karankevich, an immigrant from Russia, said. "That someone who didn’t immediately disavow a murder of a peaceful protester by neo-Nazis is holding a rally in the city of Phoenix that very marginally voted for him. I think it’s disgraceful and if I was a Republican, I would be pretty disappointed at Trump’s behavior."

Martin, who attended both the March for Science and the Women's March, said she believes in taking a stand and the importance of not staying silent.

"Sitting silently and refusing to protest... is just as harmful as going out into the streets and hurting people or taking rights away from people based on their race," Martin said. "To be silent is violent. It harms others, and I think we’re seeing that in America right now."

RELATED: Column: In political polarization, we're part of problem

 Patricia Conder and her 13-year-old daughter Lillian were also first-time ralliers.

Wonder said she believed it was important to bring her daughter to let her experience a protest, especially after an incident in Lillian's middle school.

"This kid was walking behind me and asked me if I was Jewish," Lillian said. "I told him no; I told him I was an atheist because I don’t have a religion, and he said 'Well, you’re going to hell with all the Jews.'"

Approximately 20 police officers were at the event to ensure everyone's safety.

"Our most recent protests and gatherings have been very peaceful, but with all that’s going around the nation we did prepare for other contingencies," said Sgt. David Contreas of Tucson Police Department.

The protest was conducted peacefully throughout.


Follow Rocky Baier on Twitter.



Share this article