Watsonville High School Students Speak About Walkouts

Students Walkout at Watsonville and Pajaro Valley High Schools. Photos by Soraya Hernandez.

On Thursday, March 30, 2006, I spoke with Watsonville High School students about the walkouts which took place on Monday, March 27th and Tuesday, March 28th. Students share their reasons for walking-out, why they do not support attempts to create anti-immigrant laws as well as the actions of fellow students, teachers, administrators and police.

Many of the students discuss instances of police brutality which they saw and heard about from friends. Police brutality included hitting a student in the back with a baton and spraying students with pepper spray, including the eyes.

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Students From Six High Schools March in Santa Cruz Against HR 4437

On Wednesday, March 29th, hundreds of students from Santa Cruz High, Santa Cruz Community, Habor, Aptos, Soquel and Cesar Chavez (Barrios Unidos) left class at 10:00am to meet at the Clock Tower and march to the Santa Cruz County Courthouse. They marched for immigrant rights and justice and against HR4437.

After the walkout and march, I went over to Santa Cruz High and spoke to a small group of students. Ricky, a student at Santa Cruz Community and Edwin, a student at Santa Cruz High, discussed what happened and some of their motivations for marching.

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Marching Through The Streets of Watsonville to Stop HR 4437

On March 25, 2006, thousands of people marched through the streets of Watsonville as part of the 241 march for peace from Tijuana to the Mission District in San Francisco. While calling for an end to war in Iraq, most people were focused on calling attention to HR 4437; one of many anti-immigrant bills making its way through Congress.

HR 4437 would make it a felony offense to be in the U.S. without proper documentation. This would push undocumented immigrants further underground, and increase the potential for exploitation by employers. This bill would also criminalize nurses, teachers, clergy, social workers, and anyone else who aids, assists, or otherwise has regular contact with undocumented immigrants.

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Santa Cruz Demonstration Against War in Iraq

On March 19, 2006, somewhere between 150 and 200 people rallied at the clock tower in Santa Cruz before marching down Pacific Avenue and up Front Street. Demonstrators called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the removal of George Bush from the White House and for government money to be spent on education instead of warfare.

After a rally at the clock tower, people began marching down Pacific Avenue.

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Immigrant Rights Rallies and Marches Through Downtown and the Beach Flats

On March 17, 2006, more than four hundred people rallied at the Santa Cruz County Building and marched to Beach Flats Park to express their united outrage against HR 4437; one of many anti-immigrant bills which may become a law later this year. At the park, we heard more information about the laws and the importance of uniting our communities as well as theatrical and musical performances. We then marched out of the Beach Flats, up Pacific Ave., and back to the County Building for a final rally of the night.

As one person pointed out at the Beach Flats Park rally, HR 4437 has been a serious wake-up call for many people who are united against classist and racist borders and laws.

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