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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Protestors stand up against hate

Alex McIntyre
Sarah Murdoch, holding a sign and American flag, marches just ahead of Sumayyah Dawud, the “Stand Up Against Hate” rally’s organizer, and alongside other protesters in the “Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc” on North Euclid Avenue just north of University Boulevard on Saturday, July 18, 2015. Murdoch, like many others, heard about the “Stand Up Against Hate” rally in advance through a Facebook event invitation.

The Stand Up Against Hate protest rallied in support of the local Muslim community to square off against “hatred, bigotry, islamophobia and xenophobia” on the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Euclid Avenue on Saturday, July 18.

An anti-Muslim rally slated to occur the same afternoon in front of the Islamic Center of Tucson sparked the protest. The rally, called the Let Freedom Ring Free Speech Coalition, was canceled the day before the event for reasons unclear.

A similar anti-Muslim rally was held outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix on May 29. Anti-Muslim protesters arrived outside the Phoenix mosque with firearms and held a Mohammed drawing contest a few blocks away at Washington Park.

Despite the cancellation of the anti-Muslim rally, the Tucson Muslim community was worried protestors would still come, and that the events of Phoenix would be repeated in Tucson.

“I don’t care what religion a person is, what your politics are, who you are—we have to speak out against all forms of hatred, bigotry and hate-based violence,” said Sumayyah Dawud, the organizer of the Stand Up Against Hate protest.

Roughly 80 people lined the sidewalk along Speedway Boulevard—some holding signs, some standing peacefully and others covering their faces with bandannas.

Overall, they were met with support by passersby. Cars honked, occupants waved and smiled, some gave a thumbs-up. The phrase “Love always wins,” made popular by recent human rights movements, was frequently shouted from rolled-down windows.

Occasionally, however, some drivers expressed negative responses, and a middle finger was raised. Slogans like “white power!” were shouted from a passing car—reminders of why these protesters gathered in the first place.

“It’s okay to disagree with each other, and it’s okay to have differences,” said Irfan Sheik, a member of the Tucson Muslim community. “Just because we differ in theology doesn’t mean we have to hate each other.”

At about 5:30 p.m., protestors began to march down Speedway Boulevard toward the UA campus. They turned down Tyndall Avenue, past the Islamic Center of Tucson, and continued onto University Boulevard.

Alongside protestors from the Muslim community walked individuals dressed in black with their faces concealed. This group, the Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc, had come to march in support of the Muslim community.

Up to this point the march had largely stayed on the sidewalk, but once across Euclid Avenue, protestors poured into the street.

Individuals dressed in black with hoods and black bandanas covering their faces spread a banner that read “Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc” across University Boulevard, blocking traffic.

The small collection of Tucson Police Department cars following the group quickly increased, fanning out in front of and behind the march. A TPD motorcycle officer came up beside the group and asked, “Where do you want to go?”

Once TPD began escorting the group down University Boulevard, the remainder of the marchers followed suit and lined up behind the banner.

Shortly after the TPD escort started, the marchers holding the banner began chanting; “How do you spell racism? Tucson PD!” This chant caused many of the protesters marching with the group to quickly disperse, but the banner and a smaller group of marchers continued on to Fourth Avenue.

“A lot of people just left,” said Brandon Knight, a member of the Muslim community. “I don’t know if they [the Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc] already had their protest set, and it just happened to coincide.”

The Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc had planned on joining the Muslim community in their protest on Saturday, but once the march began, their role shifted quickly from that of a supporting one to a primary one.

“Obviously the dynamics have changed because a lot of people [from the Muslim community] didn’t show up,” Dawud said, referring to the marching and chanting Anarchist Bloc. “Now we’re two different groups meeting.”

The march eventually ended on Congress Street in front of the Ronstadt Transportation Center.

The Islamic Center of Tucson, closed during the hours of the Saturday protest, held their own peace gathering Sunday night.

While not directly addressing the Let Freedom Ring Rally, the center’s gathering was an open invitation to all those “vested in peace” with the intention of denouncing terrorism, hate and xenophobia.

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