'Lots of beautiful people' honor MLK at march
Marchers in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day march on Monday were in a more somber mood than in years past.
While smiles and hugs between marchers were evident, and some marchers sang hyms as they walked from the University of Arizona to Reid Park, the exuberance usually evident was absent among Tucsonans still shaken by last week's shootings.
About 400-500 marchers set off from the UA Mall at about 9 a.m., a campus police officer estimated.
Hundreds more joined in as the march progressed.
Far fewer horns were honked by the drivers of passing cars than usual, although waves and smiles were exchanged between drivers and those walking.
By the time the group turned the corner at Broadway and Country Club Road and headed south, they stretched more than five blocks along the west side of the street. The number of marchers reached nearly 2,000 as the group neared Reid Park.
As the marchers wound their toward the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, I spoke with Tucson's city manager, Mike Letcher, for a few moments.
"This is a remarkable turnout," he said. "This reflects the heart of our community."
"It shows the love and respect of Martin Luther King are reflected in our community's response to the events of the past week."
"Dr. King lived a philosophy of nonviolence. This shows that people in this country are at the point where they see that we need to reaffirm our commitment to that," he said.
"The people marching today are not just honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., they're paying respect to the victims of last week."
"We need to recommit ourselves to caring about one another," Letcher said.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias agreed that the march was about renewing a community connection.
What we have here is a beautiful day, in a beautiful community, with lots of beautiful people," he said.
"They are all intent on making sure everybody knows that while we have our disagreements, we love each other."