The Coalition of Black Students and Allies held a rally and protest that started at Old Main on Friday, Aug. 28.
“We are marching to decriminalize Black lives and affirm Black lives and narratives,” said Maryan Hassan, a member of COBA, via email. “We want the community to grasp that the criminalization of Black people happens on several levels such as the societal and institutional level.”
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The rally and protest started with speakers from COBA. The first speaker was Junnis Hugger, member of COBA, who shared the statistics of minorities from 2015-2019 at the University of Arizona.
“We must get comfortable with holding people accountable,” stated Hugger.
Members of COBA said they started the organization because of the University of Arizona Police Department and the Tucson Police Department, which led to them explaining the purpose of the rally and protest.
“We are here to prove that white supremacy and those that want us dead will not win," the members explained. “We are here for those who have lost their lives due to police brutality, we are also here for those who have survived it.”
Mariah Barnett, member of COBA, was the last speaker. Barnett listed those who have lost their lives due to police brutality.
“You know what they have in common? They never got justice.” said Barnett. “If we don’t act now things will only get worse.”
COBA then stated the list of 21 demands they sent to UA Administration in June. This current list of demands expands on a previous list of demands sent to UA Administration in 2016.
COBA then opened up the floor to anyone participating to come up and share the experiences they have had at the UA.
After the protest the march around the UA campus began. One of the last stops during the march was at the UAPD building on campus. During this stop, more people shared injustices they have faced while at the UA. One student recalled UAPD coming to their dorm room while other students were smoking and drinking right down the hall. Another student shared her experience about reporting issues to the university and not receiving an adequate response.
At the end of the march there was an eight minute and 45 second moment of silence for George Floyd. The march ended back at Old Main.
“COBA’s goal for the march is to create visibility and exposure of our goal of holding central Administration accountable in the ways they participate in systems that continues to reduce the value of Black people on our campus,” Hassan said via email.
She also explained that another goal is to have support while they try to get their list of demands met.
“There are many reasons that have inspired me to be a part of this march, but the main reason is I am tired of the dehumanization of Black lives, of my life,” Hassan said.
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