Hundreds of students and Flagstaff residents marched in solidarity in honor of the life and civil rights work of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday on the Northern Arizona University campus.
Many marchers from the Du Bois Center to the University Union said they were motivated by reports that President Trump referred to African nations as “shitholes.”
“I think the divisive political climate motivated a lot more people to march and show we believe in what Dr. King stood for,” Tracye Moore said. “Specifically I am talking about the divisiveness created by our 45th by calling majority black African nations shitholes.”
Flagstaff resident Kosmos Ververelli expressed the same sentiment, stating that the nation needed to come together against the president’s comments
“The poor comments made at the executive level have created more divisiveness in this country and they don’t reflect the world that Martin Luther King stood for,” Ververelli said.
However, most preferred to focus on support of King instead of defiance of Trump.
Marchers carried signs depicting his most inspirational quotes such as “I have a dream” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Many marchers took the time to inform the public about today’s social justice issues, such as migrants being sold as slaves in Libya.
“There is still injustice all over the world so I feel an obligation to march,” NAU student Shyanne Carter-Wade said as she carried some of the posters she handed out to marchers. “We have to keep fighting against injustice just as Dr. King did.”
Moore said she would have marched even without the president’s provocative comments because she believed in King’s message of “greater service.”
Flagstaff resident Resley Grose did not mention the president when he shared why he marched.
“I march to keep the dream alive,” Grose said. “We have to keep the dream alive by encouraging people, having a discussion about our problems and not getting involved with all of these distractions.”
Ververelli said he marched because he believed in King.
“I believe in what MLK stood for and I want to honor him,” Ververelli said. “If I am being honest I am a follower of Jesus and Dr. King’s faith drove him just like it drives me.”
Carter-Wade said she was encouraged by the number of people who came out to march and others who joined when they realized the significance of this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which comes 50 years after his assassination.
“I think this year we are seeing a lot more doers, people who are unhappy with the injustice they are seeing and wanting to do something about it,” Carter-Wade said. “There are more people who joined the march after they realized what we were doing. The next step is to get more people involved with their community and more people willing to help by voting and running for office.”
Ververelli said the memory of King was an easy way to bring people together, despite what he said was a divided country.
“Martin Luther King was a hero and that is an easy thing to march for.”
If you build it, the city of Flagstaff might not come -- for business purposes, that is.
On Tuesday, the city council will vote on a resolution against the proposed wall along the border with Mexico. The resolution also contains a clause that the mayor and city council will do their best not to procure services from any companies that are involved with the creation or maintenance of the wall.
In response to the drafted resolution, the president of the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors wrote a letter to the mayor and city council, alleging the language illegally blacklists contractors.
“The maintenance provision alone is so broad that it will include cement producers, concrete suppliers, sand and gravel operations, fuel suppliers, steel suppliers, cleaning supply companies, tool suppliers, etc.,” David Martin, the chapter president wrote. “These companies are critical to building the city’s infrastructure and will be excluded from procuring work with the city.”
Martin said the chapter does not take a position on the wall or on the city’s resolution, but said that provision is “unconstitutional” and limits competition, which could increase costs for taxpayer-funded projects in cities.
The council discussed a possible resolution at its January 2 meeting, and two members of the public spoke in favor of the council voicing its opposition to the border wall.
Robert Neustadt, a member of Keep Flagstaff Together, an immigrant rights organization, said the wall would have a “very, very extreme environmental impact,” noting that 33 threatened and endangered species live in the area where the wall would be built, and their migration paths would be destroyed by the barrier.
More than 7,000 human remains have been discovered in the desert near the border since 1994, Neustadt said, and around 150 bodies are found in Arizona annually.
“As citizens of this country we all already have blood on our hands for the existing wall,” Neustadt said in a letter to the Daily Sun, adding that many people are not aware there are nearly 700 miles of walls and vehicle barriers
Northern Arizona University Humanities professor Gioia Woods also spoke against the wall, and said the university cannot fulfill its mission “when there is an idealistic and physical barrier.” The NAU Faculty Senate has passed similar resolutions in support of undocumented immigrants, she said.
At the council’s January 2 meeting, councilmen Charlie Odegaard and Scott Overton said they opposed moving the resolution forward. Overton said he did not think the action was in the “best interest of the city,” and Odegaard said he did not think the resolution had “imminent impact” to Flagstaff.
If the council votes to adopt the resolution, it will join several other cities, including Tucson and San Diego. The Tempe City Council is considering a similar resolution on a new wall, but it does not include avoiding doing business with companies involved in the wall’s construction or maintenance.