Meeting canceled after 700+ students walk out of classes and blockade TUSD headquarters. Fifteen arrested during occupation of Arizona state building
Breaking: On Tuesday, May 11 Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed HB2281, a bill that legally prohibits ethnic studies programs from Arizona public schools, equating such classes with sedition and removing state funding from districts that offer them.
On the morning of May 12th state superintendent Tom Horne, who for years has advocated eliminating ethnic studies, tried to hold a meeting with Tucson Unified School District officials to discuss the district's curriculum. Rumors began circulating around 10:00 a.m. among Jr. high and high school students that Horne was in Tucson to immediately "pull the plug" on their classes.
In response, more than 700 spontaneously walked-out of their classes, with participants from Rincon, Cholla, Tucson and Pueblo high schools. Students then marched to TUSD headquarters and proceeded to surround the building and blockade the entrances to prevent Horne from entering. Shortly thereafter, school district officials canceled their meeting, claiming that Horne, who is running for state Attorney General, had turned it into "a political event".
After learning that the meeting was canceled, about 200 among those gathered left TUSD and marched through downtown Tucson to the Arizona state building, where Horne was scheduled to hold a press conference at 2pm. More than a hundred entered and occupied the building lobby, and fifteen were ultimately arrested for refusing to leave.
In addition to HB2281, student demonstrators spoke out against SB1070 and SB1097, a bill that would force school districts to check the legal status of all students and eliminate public funding for those undocumented. A statement was circulated at the rally encouraging others around the country to engage in protests and direct action on Friday, May 14 in solidarity with students in Arizona.