Just one day before he came, it was confirmed that Trump would be appearing in Tucson – March 19th. SURJ Tucson supporters had planned to travel to Phoenix to be a part of the rally and action there but when we found out he would come to Tucson we changed our plans. We put out the word to the SURJ list as well as the broader activist community. We invited people to gather that morning to paint signs and to meet up later in the day at Armory Park to walk together to the Tucson Convention Center, where Trump would speak.
There were about 150 of us walking together to the Convention Center, where people were already gathering outside the door, rallying and protesting. Our group walked peacefully up and down the parking lot with signs along with allied activists and a Danza Mexica group performing with sage and blessings. For an hour as people filed in, we held the SURJ Tucson Black Lives Matter banner and other signs, next to the walkway where everyone entering could see them. We engaged some of the folks in
conversation. Many ignored us, but some did engage – some respectfully, while others were hostile. Some protesters in the crowd chanted - ‘Trump is a racist’ and ‘Dump Trump’!
A group of us from SURJ Tucson along with a few other activists decided on the spur of the moment to go inside together to have a presence with the SURJ banner. We did and entered the arena and descended the steps behind the stage where Trump spoke, displaying the banner – see photos. One Trump supporter pushed a SURJ activist and another hit one of the allied activists on the head after the group moved down the steps closer to the lower seating area. Security was everywhere and a group of young Latina/o activists from MeCHA protesting Trump were escorted out. Tucson SURJ was allowed to stay inside until the end, and photos of the group holding the SURJ banner were sent out widely and circulated in the press – this was a positive outcome- although some of the press used the photos to disparage ‘the protesters’.
We learned a lot from the experience – most importantly that it would be strategic to have a definite plan and a set of guidelines agreed upon by those participating, for engaging in direct, peaceful, and nonviolent action.