Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta partner on Million Man March event
While thousands of people filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a group of around 50 college students and community members marched in downtown Phoenix Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Local chapters of the Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta fraternities organized the peaceful protest, which began outside the state Capitol and ended at the Arizona State University downtown campus.
“This march is to show support to and to have an event for the people who couldn’t make it to D.C.,” said Antoine Jones. Jones, a political science major at Morgan State University, organized the march with ASU’s student Lamar Piggee.
Many of the students attending the event heard about it through various social media.
“We are here to support the young people,” said Ken Turner, of Phoenix. “There’s a lot to be done in the community.”
The march ended with a live streaming viewing of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. along with speeches from local community members at the ASU health service building.
The Phoenix Million Man March took place in conjunction with several other marches across the country, said Mel Hall, a member of Phi Beta Sigma and graduate student at Grand Canyon University. He said he hoped the march would bring attention to issues facing minority communities.
Phi Beta Sigma also co-sponsored the original Million Man March.
Miles away, in north central Phoenix, a contentious three-hour protest was anything but unifying Saturday morning.
About 50 people protested in front of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, in what they called a nationwide “Global Rally for Humanity” that hearkened back to a similar anti-Islam demonstration in May organized by Jon Ritzheimer.
“I believe there’s good Muslims in this country,” Ritzheimer said. “But I do not condone Islam and what it teaches.”
At about 10 a.m., a scuffle between two protesters was broken up by Phoenix police, who formed a line with 10 officers to further divide the crowds. There were no arrests.
On one side, some armed demonstrators referring to themselves as patriots waved American flags and condemned the Quran, while many counter-protesters held light-hearted signs and sought tolerance.
“We all need to come together. Rather than stand here, we could all contribute to society and help bridge this gap we’re experiencing,” said Jaime Stele, a counter-protester. “This doesn’t solve any problems.”