TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As the doors at the federal courthouse in downtown Tucson closed for the day, nearly 100 people lined up to rally for racial justice Thursday evening, July 21.
The group Showing Up for Racial Justice organized the rally in an effort to stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives.
SURJ volunteer Nathan Watts said the group is taking a stand against violence that oppresses the black community. He said families and individuals should not have to live in fear for their lives.
"We are out here protesting the violence that we've witnessed across the nation, the extra judicial killings," he said. "The lack of accountability for police, who, in turn, become murderers and are not held accountable for those criminal actions."
Watts said it's crucial for the Tucson community to be involved in the nationwide effort to bring about change even though recent deadly shootings happened far from southern Arizona.
"It's intimately a part of our national reality," said Watts. "Racism is into the warp and woof of every day existence in the United States."
In the crowd Thursday was Rose Tederous. She held her "Black Lives Matter" sign next to a line of people along Congress Street. She said southern Arizona needs to be involved in the movement because it's the only way to change the United States as a whole.
"It's really important that we all unify because if Tucson gets it together...let's say we're all in harmony," she said. "Well if another area is still profiling African-American people we are not all in harmony."
She said racism has oppressed African-Americans for centuries in this country and people need to realize that the Civil Rights movement was not the end of the issue.
"We can become a country where everyone is treated equal," she said. "And in order to do that, people need to get real."
Michael Brasher walked to the rally with his family. He said video of the shooting death of Alton Sterling changed his mind about the movement. He said putting himself in the shoes of Sterling's family was enough for him to become active.
"If we could get justice by just chilling and liking on Facebook, then maybe we would do that," he said. "It takes disrupting things to get the folks who are fine to realize that some of us are not fine."
Brasher said he was encouraged by the turnout for Thursday's rally but he's hopeful more people will stand beside him.
"I think we need to have more white folks here," Brasher said. "I'm wondering where the rest of my white community is at here tonight with this event going on."
Organizers called for three demands, according to a release from SURJ. They are:
- An end to violence against Black people, specifically police and other state violence
- 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 clear, concrete steps to reduce state violence against Black people in every town, city, county and state