Thousands of Los Angeles high school students walked out of class today to protest the proposed immigration laws.
Students sat down in streets and at one point closed a freeway. The protests are expected to grow tomorrow. This from someone who participated.
The following report is from Don White via the CISPES listserv.
Mayor, others, address students on steps of City Hall; some marchers take the streets and freeways; no arrests up to 2:00 p.M.
Peaking at about 5000 students, a demonstration Monday on the south lawn of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles was addressed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the youth chanted, applauded and waved banners and flags. His appearance from a City Hall door created a surge of students to the steps of the building.
Earlier students poured into the City Hall lawn after walking out of scores of local high school and middle schools to protest the immigration legislation now in Congress. As each student contingent enter the area, deafening cheers greeted the newcomers.
Student protesters especially targeted the most Draconian immigration proposal in Congress with signs calling for NO ON 4437. There are now four proposals before Congress including the President’s and one, supported by some labor unions, sponsored by Senators Kennedy and McCain.
Students who “walked out” of class today probably got a better education than if they had been sitting in class. Speakers who touched off enthusiastic responses included the Mayor, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte, State Sen. Richard Alarcon, City Councilperson Eric Garcetti, legendary activist Nativo Lopez and a series of student organizers.
School Board members, including David Tokofsky, monitored the student-police relations and scores of principals and teachers surrounded the area.
Sgt. Royce of LAPD told a National Lawyers Guild legal observer at 1:30 p.m. that “there have been no arrests, no detentions and no serious incidents.”
Unbelievably the Mayor spoke to the huge throng without a sound system and only later in the day did the LAUSD bring in sound for the rally.
Every major television station, English and Spanish, had crews covering the students including some helicopter coverage.
At one point students occupied the Harbor Freeway but were “herded” off the highway by police. While it created a major traffic tie-up, there were no arrests.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. about 400 hundred students took over Alvarado Street at Beverly and LAPD moved in to escort the march rather than try to force them onto sidewalks. They moved toward MacArthur Park.
A school official told us at 2:00 p.m. that 1000 students were en route to City Hall from East Los Angeles, scheduled to arrive at 4:00 p.m. or so.
School officials began bringing buses to City Hall as early as 2:00 p.m. offering “free rides” back to all campuses. Most students declined and some chanted, “Hell No, We Won’t Go.”
As on Saturday, Mexican and U.S. flags dominated but Central American flags were seen throughout the crowd.
The heavy turnout of public officials, school principals and school Board members certainly helped create a passive and non-agressive attitude by police.
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