Don White of CISPES continues his reports on the student walkouts in L.A. He is a longtime organizer and often assists ANSWER LA during large demos. His first report was yesterday.
One thing you must understand. People in Los Angeles do not go outside if it rains. For students to spend all day protesting outside in heavy rain is quite extraordinary.
Arrests, crackdowns and threats directed at students protesting immigration legislation.
City, educators and police reverse “permissive” policy and threaten retaliation against youth.
By Don White.
Los Angeles, March 28, 2006
In a clear reversal by city officials, educators and police, student protesters today faced campus lockdowns, arrests and threats with both Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Schools Superintendent Ray Romer threatening consequences to further student protests and “truancy.” Police have made it clear they will no longer tolerate traffic closings and freeway protests.
In a driving rain, thousands of students again left their campuses, often climbing over school fences, and targeted government buildings, freeways and streets calling for no government attacks on their families, neighborhoods and communities.
At Carson High School police firmly brought to the ground a student protester, handcuffed him and booked him. The behavior of police was clearly an angry and brutal response. Several arrests at Carson High and in areas around high schools were reported.
At a joint press conference, Mayor Villaraigosa and School Superintendent Ray Romer firmly told students to stay in class or face the consequences. Romer said that families which did not have their students in class may be called in for conferences. He mentioned that the senior class should especially not take part in the protests, sending a threat about graduation participation.
Arrests took place on two freeways where traffic jams were created by students blocking the highway. Live television coverage showed ten or twelve students lined up, facing the cement wall of the freeway, handcuffed and being prepared for transfer to a police station.
A heavy rain did not deter 200 students from again gathering at City Hall but no arrests or incidents were reported there.
Numbers of protesters were down significantly from yesterday but the militancy remained high. But some student leaders, probably encouraged by school authorities, encouraged students to remain on campus. The general theme was “We’ve made our point; now we might be hurting ourselves.”
Students here in Los Angeles, obviously motivated partly by the 600,000 to 700,000 people who marched last Saturday, have stunned city officials and police with their organizing and militancy. Overwhelmingly the student protests have been non-violent, well-organized and clearly focused on the issues, with signs and banners often targeting the House version of the legislation which calls for building a wall on the border, making felons of immigrants and criminalizing those who help undocumented immigrants.
When asked about the Senate Judiciary Committee action yesterday, which some organizers have described as positive, one student remarked, “We know that can be reversed.”
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