“Decriminalize Black Lives” Protest Held at UArizona’s Old Main

By DALTON GRIJALVA

On Friday August 28th at 5 p.m., a crowd of UArizona students and others from around the community of Tucson met at the campus’ Old Main building to protest for the Decriminalization of Black lives.

I have been to multiple protests for black lives matter protests. The protest, organized by The Coalition of Black Students and Allies (COBA), was a peaceful demonstration. Everyone was required to wear a mask. Protestors were informed of their rights, as well as educated on what to look for in case someone became dehydrated. Volunteer paramedics handed out Gatorade and water.

“We organized the protest because one, we had prepared a peaceful environment during the celebration of Black lives which was unconstitutionally disrupted by UAPD,” said Lone Malefo, a chemical engineering major as well as one of the three people who run the COBA program. “In one of our letters we wrote that then disturbing us implied that they thought our event was worth policing and that Black spaces are inherently dangerous. That is a myth and we wanted to show that we do not need police officers especially those that are heavily armed on a university campus.”

The protest started as a sit in at old main which then was turned into a five mile march looping around from old main through University, 6th street, Campbell, another sit in at the UA police department, Greek row and finally ending back at old main. 

In total the march lasted about four hours. Chants calling for tolerance, such as “this is what community looks like,” could be heard up and down the street. 

“I Thought the protest was really good for a first timer,” said Jade Banks, a UArizona freshman Film and Television major. “Completely peaceful, and it was nice being able to hear other peoples stories and be able to relate to them on a physical and emotional level.” 

People of all colors came to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many black voices were heard and shared stories of their experiences dealing with racism. 

“I decided to go to the protest because I had been actively involved in the BLM movement in my home town of Aurora Colorado,” said sophomore Theatre major Lissete Mora. “Going to protests, sharing information on social media, and writing to local politicians. I wanted to continue my support for BIPOC here in Tucson and the protest was a fantastic opportunity to do so. This is a moral issue that is deeply rooted in white supremacy and perpetuated by systemic racism. For far too long BIPOC in this country have been oppressed and murdered without consequence and I feel that I have to do all I can to help change that.”

COBA has a list of 21 demands they hope to accomplish and can be easily found on their instagram page @coba_uarizona in both Spanish and English. Demands include the University severing ties with the Tucson Police Department, Border Patrol, and Immigration Customs Enforcement, as well as specific funds allocated to expand the physical spaces in the University’s Cultural and Resource Centers. 

“COBA, more than anything, has taught me that intersectionality is the only way we can all win.” Malefo said. 

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