March 29, 2020         
New Flotation Device is Impacting the Lives of Individuals Struggling With Physical Disabilities   •   AJC Haggadah Supplement for Coronavirus Passover   •   16 Local Nonprofits Awarded Nearly $370,000 in First Round of Grants from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund   •   Heartis Arlington Among First Senior Living Communities To Test All Residents And Staff For COVID-19   •   HITN Launches Content and Services to Help Hispanic Families Cope with the Coronavirus Threat   •   Sallie Mae Donates $200,000 to the Food Bank of Delaware to Support Those Affected by COVID-19   •   Perfect Corp. Offers Three Complimentary Beauty AR/AI Virtual Try-on Services to the Beauty Brands to Accelerate Digital Transfo   •   Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights Statement on Peaceful Transition of Reverend Doctor Joseph Ech   •   Trip.com Group Chairman James Liang: Beware the xenophobia epidemic   •   With City on Lockdown, Dallas Church Launches Online TV Station   •   Jesus Shows His Love and Proves that He Is Real: He Wants to Know Readers Personally   •   Invacare Corporation Named a 2019 Winning “W” Company by 2020 Women on Boards   •   Millionaire Match Wins Success for Those Who Seek Long-Term Relationships & Marriage Through Millionaire Dating   •   Statement From ESSENCE Communications, Inc. on the Postponement of the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture   •   Publix Offering Rent Relief in Publix-owned Shopping Centers   •   Taco Bell Plans to Feed America this Tuesday   •   PeopleReady’s JobStack App is Helping Companies Obtain Gig Workers for Critical “Second Responder” Jobs 24/7   •   New Baseball Short Film Chronicles Elmora Troopers' Journey to 2019 Little League World Series   •   TherapeuticsMD Provides COVID-19-Related Business Update   •   Hyundai Hope On Wheels Expands Its Support For COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing To 11 Children's Hospitals With $2.2 Million
Bookmark and Share

Trial Begins For AZ Protestors

  By Roberto Rodriguez, New America Media

 

TUCSON, AZ - On May 14, a day after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law eliminating ethnic studies, police at Tucson’s state building detained 15 student and community members for “criminal trespassing.” Their trial is set for Oct. 12 -- Columbus Day. One of the 15 defendants, Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, writes that the irony is not lost on them.

The irony of standing trial on Columbus Day – for defending Tucson’s Raza Studies Program – is not lost on the defendants. The philosophical foundation for Raza Studies at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is maiz-based knowledge – knowledge that is both indigenous to this continent, and at least 7,000 years old.

Despite this, the state superintendent of schools, Tom Horne – whose mission is to eliminate ethnic studies in Arizona – believes that Raza Studies is “un-American,” this while embracing knowledge from Greece and Rome as the basis for Western Civilization taught in Arizona schools.

On May 14, a day after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2281, legislation designed to eliminate ethnic studies, the police at Tucson’s state building detained a total of 15 student and community members for “criminal trespassing.” The first trials, primarily of social justice students, are set for the morning of Oct 12, the day after the Monday holiday and the traditional date of Columbus Day.

Initially, after word had spread that Tom Horne was coming to Tucson to a meeting with TUSD administrators – one day after the signing of HB 2281 – hundreds of students and community members formed a human chain around the TUSD headquarters. His presence was interpreted as a victory lap. Wave after wave of students surrounded not just the building but the entire block itself.

Rather than face them, Horne instead opted to hold a press conference at the state building a couple of miles away. Hundreds of students marched there, and then entered the state building, despite being told by officials that they were not welcome in this public building. Several dozen students attempted to enter the press conference on the second floor, but were locked out. As a result, they staged an impromptu sit-in. In the end, 15 refused to leave and were thus detained. Of these, 13 were arrested for criminal trespass. This included several middle, high school and college students. It also included two University of Arizona professors (including me).

No charges were filed against Horne, who has single-handedly made it his mission to eliminate the highly successful Raza Studies program. This program graduates students at a 97.5 percent rate and the college-going rate is upwards of 70 percent, at a time of extremely high nationwide dropout rates. Horne charges that the program is “un-American,” that it promotes ethnic solidarity and that it breeds resentment against other races and the United States itself.

Through HB 2281, Horne has charged that ethnic studies promotes segregation and calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The legislation creates exemptions for American Indian Studies and African-American Studies – a clumsy attempt to isolate Tucson’s Raza Studies.

HB 2281 sets up a state mechanism to approve books and curricula. Horne’s intent is to prove that Raza Studies-TUSD is out of compliance, and to eliminate it by Dec. 31, 2010. Despite his wishes, the state lacks the power to shut it down. The district would get a chance to appeal the decision before Raza Studies could be shut down.

On its face, Horne’s charges – that Raza Studies is out of compliance with a law that doesn’t even go into effect until Jan. 1, 2011 – is bizarre. Having never visited a Raza Studies classroom, he has demanded that TUSD videotape all Raza Studies classes. TUSD has rebuffed his demands, arguing that Raza Studies is in full compliance.

Separately, a lawsuit is pending that will seek to prevent the state from implementing HB 2281. Proponents of the lawsuit will argue that the law is ambiguous -- that the terms used in the legislation are ambiguous. For instance, the notion of what is “American” or “un-American” has never been litigated. What is “ethnic” and what constitutes “ethnic studies” has also never been litigated.

The danger of HB 2281 is similar to that of SB 1070 – which made it a state crime to be undocumented: it could be replicated nationwide and expanded to the college and university levels. 

This is the importance of these Columbus Day trials and the forthcoming lawsuit. It is when and where Ethnic/Raza Studies will be defended.

Rodriguez, a member of the MAS-TUSD community advisory board is a professor at the University of Arizona.


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC , LATINO , MEXICAN , MINORITY , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , DIVERSITY , LATINA , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY



Back to top
| Back to home page
Video

White House Live Stream
LIVE VIDEO EVERY SATURDAY
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Video

LIVE BROADCASTS
Sounds Make the News ®
WAOK-Urban
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
KPFA-Progressive
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
WVON-Urban
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
WADO-Spanish
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
WOL-Urban
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News