Immigration protestors march at state Capitol
By Annette Espinoza and Electa Draper
The Denver Post
April 30, 2010
Hundreds of Denver students walked out of high schools and colleges Friday afternoon to protest Arizona's tough new law on illegal immigration.
About 100 to 150 Lincoln High School students took to the sidewalks a little after noon, led by a police escort urging them to stay safely off the streets.
About 50 students headed out from West High School and more than 100 set out from North High School.
Organizers with Padres & Jovenes Unidos, who staged the walkout as a show of support for "brothers and sisters in Arizona," are demanding immigration reform.
Organizers, such as Lalo Montoya, used bullhorns to call students out of classes and into the streets. Other gathering sites were City Park, Viking Park and Sunken Gardens.
Protesters began converging at the Capitol at about 2:30 p.m.. Speeches are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Lincoln High School junior, Miguel Nunez, 17, a native Coloradan, stayed in class because he had too much schoolwork to join the protest, he said, yet he strongly opposes the Arizona law.
"I wanted to go to Arizona to play baseball for college, but now I'm afraid I'll be profiled and stopped," Nunez said. "It's sad because that was my dream. It's not fair to be called out because of the color of your skin. It's just wrong."
Denver Public Schools spokesman Michael Vaughn said the district's normal attendance policy applied to students participating in the walkout: anyone whose parents didn't not notify the school they would be leaving will be docked for an unexcused absence.
West High School Principal Jorge Loera said he couldn't force the students to stay in school, but he required their parents' consent. Without it, he said, they would be hit with an unexcused absence.
"It's great so many people are against this. I applaud the kids," said bystander Megan Lucic.
"They're protesting against injustice," said Ethan Novikoff.
Walkout organizers are also calling for a boycott of Arizona-based companies and for President Barack Obama to send a clear message to the state that only the federal government can make and enforce immigration laws. President Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have denounced the law.
Colorado Protest organizers include La Raza Youth Leadership Program MEChA, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Metro Organizations for People, University of Denver Students for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Café Cultura, Barrio Warriors, Rights for All People, Escuela Tlatelolco, Servicios de la Raza and Reform Immigration for America Campaign.
The Arizona law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer April 23, gives law enforcement power to demand proof of citizenship and to detain anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. Lawmakers late Thursday night amended the law to eliminate
The law is widely considered the strictest and broadest immigration measure in decades, perhaps since "Operation Wetback" in the 1950s. It resulted in massive detainments and 2 million deportations across the U.S.
Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org