Yesterday”s Defend Affirmative Action Party-sponsored march and rally experienced a last-minute detour due to Diag overbooking.

Paul Wong
Members of the Young Americans for Freedom clash with affirmative action demonstrators yesterday, one of several skirmishes between the two, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march across campus.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

Scheduled to begin at noon on the corner of Forest and South University avenues and finish on the Diag, the march was rerouted to East Hall.

Speakers at the rally included Shanta Driver, a member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, University English Prof. Helen Fox and two high school students. They addressed civil rights issues including the significance of affirmative action in education, the possible deportation and charges against local Muslim activist Rabih Haddad and the University”s search for a new president.

“These are the civil rights issues of today,” said DAAP member and Rackham student Jessica Curtin after the rally. She added that she believes the issues of integration raised at the rally spread farther than the University. “It is as segregated as it”s ever, ever been in Detroit.”

DAAP members said they chose to rally on the holiday because they wanted to do more than celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

“The main reason we are marching today is to recognize and continue to fight and defend affirmative action and integration,” said DAAP member Agnes Aleobua, an LSA junior. “We are trying to continue his fight for real equality.”

One of the main arguments made at the rally was that real equality and integration can only be created through affirmative action and other equalizing programs.

Young Americans for Freedom members organized a counter-protest at the rally because they disagreed with DAAP”s decision to further their political agenda in the name of King and believe that affirmative action is unconstitutional.

YAF Chairman Peter Apel, an LSA senior, said his group is “both anti-BAMN and anti-affirmative action,” but YAF supports King”s beliefs.

“They take the whole legitimacy of Martin Luther King a great civil rights leader and use him to judge by color of skin,” Apel said, adding he believes King preached against judgments based on skin color. “Martin Luther King”s holiday should not be the time to promote an agenda which is entirely opposite what he preached.”

YAF Executive Director Justin Wilson, an LSA junior, said the group followed King”s example of silence during the protest. “It was Martin Luther King Day it”s what you”re supposed to do.”

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