By Lanissa Patterson and Joshua Shaver
On January 20, a small group of individuals gathered together for an Inauguration Day Protest, voicing their concerns about the two party system and new President Joe Biden.
Organized by activist groups Stand Up Fight Back Tucson and Iron Brigade, the protest was held at Veinte de Agosto Park right across from Tucson City Hall.
The protest began with 11 people and reached about 16 as the hour progressed.
“We are here to protest the Inauguration of Biden,” said organizer Flash Bryson, a 19 year old student. “Yes Biden may have won but we are here to make sure that Biden is held accountable for all of the promises he made during his campaign… [also] we had to settle for Biden.”
A large sign saying “ABOLISH THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM” hung between two trees encouraging people to join the protest and making some heads turn.
“America is somewhat 340 million people strong and for some reason two parties get to control what the government does,” said Shawn Shirkey, a 29 year old member of Iron Brigade.
“We have libertarians, socialists, independents, federalists, liberals… nobody gets a voice if they are not red or blue. We can’t be a government for the people and a true melting pot if everybody doesn’t have a right to speak,” said Shirky.
Stand up, Fight Back Tucson is a community organization for local protests, run by 5 BIPOC meaning Black, Indigenous and People of Color) youth members according to their Facebook and Instagram profiles under the same name.
Iron Brigade is another local organization that has worked to keep protesters safe, particularly during the summer months according to Shirkey.
“I’ve been out here with the Iron Brigade, we have been acting as security for protestors over the summer,” Shirkey said. “We’ve engaged physical and non physical confrontations with oppositions. We are out here trying to destroy power not the people.”
There was one sole moment of tension about halfway through the protest, when a police car with what appeared to be a police officer recording from the back seat drove past. Tensions rose as protestors shouted at the police car and the apparent person recording.
Police officers Lieutenant Reese and Sergeant Al Guinee of the Downtown District were present down the road of the protest and were able to investigate the incident.
They were able to concur from a video provided by one of our reporters the number of the vehicle and confirmed that it was not a police officer recording but a member of the press.
“This group [Stand up, Fight Back Tucson] has been coming out a lot,” said Sergeant Guinee. “They usually hang around 6th and Congress. They don’t like to have a lot of cops around, but they are always very respectful to me.”
The protestors wanted to make it clear that Biden was not their preferred candidate and to voice their concerns about him pushing progressive legislation, instead of senatorial legislation, says Shirkey.
“We didn’t vote for Biden because we liked him,” said Bryson. :We voted for him because he was an alternative that wasn’t Trump. He was the better of two evils.”
These protestors, like many other progressives, can only hope President Biden, whom Shirkey labels a “diet conservative,” will deliver on the promises he has made.