A group of about 50 protestors holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter” and “UA Stands for Justice” gathered at the University of Arizona’s Old Main Friday afternoon to protest the shooting death Wednesday of an unarmed African-American man by a white Phoenix Police officer.
“No one has any harmful intent,” said Taylor Allen, a sophomore studying psychology and French. “They just want to sit there and make an impact.”
Allen said her frustration and that of other protestors has been building since she heard about the case of Rumain Brisbon, who was shot in a confrontation with police at a Phoenix apartment complex Wednesday — the same day that a New York grand jury released its decision not to indict New York City officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choke-hold death of Eric Garner.
On Nov. 25, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of unarmed African-American Michael Brown.
Friday’s UA protest was among dozens held in cities around the country of people frustrated with what they see as a broken justice system.
Emma Mackenzie, a UA junior studying family studies and human development, said the protest was planned by a Facebook group called “Occupy Tucson,” which plans assemblies to speak out against what they see as injustices. Friday’s protest started at noon and was over by 2:15 p.m.
Jim Webb, Tucson Police Department’s captain of Tucson’s downtown patrol division, said police were notified that a protest would take place at Old Main, but they were not aware that the protestors would block traffic at the intersection of Park Avenue and University Boulevard.
“My concern was the Sunlink cars,” Webb said after the crowd had left the area. “You know there’s people on both of those trains that are trying to go to work, had to get to classes, had to get to other locations so that group was preventing the people from getting to where they needed to go”
An officer who would only give his name as Sergeant Wilder from the TPD Operations Division Downtown said that approximately 15 officers on duty were called to the campus. UA Police Department also was dispatched.
The protestors made their way from Old Main to Fourth Avenue where they will continue protesting tonight in downtown.
Whitney Burgoyne is a reporter for Arizona Sonora news, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @burgoynew.