The situation began at approximately 8 a.m., said district human resources director Tom Beckett in a press release, as approximately 300 students protested Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing of Senate Bill 1070, which requires law enforcement officials to determine if a person is in the United States legally.
A male high school student – some of the protestors referred to as their “leader” – was arrested for allegedly running into the middle of McDavid Road to stop traffic, Judd said, and was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting the education process.
Judd said the student, who is 18, was separated and was then cited and released, and will probably have his charges rescinded.
In response to the arrest, the students then marched on city hall after one of the students was arrested, said city public information officer LaTricia Woods.
The students continued toward the Circle K near Bashas’ and proceeded to march to Maricopa Meadows along Arizona 347.
Student Jonathan Velasquez said the students were protesting the law because of how he said the bill will be enforced.
“They don’t have the right to separate families, to ruin families,” Velasquez said.
“Whites, blacks, Mexicans … everybody. We’re all people. We’re all humans. It’s not one separate race. We should all be united together.
“We finally decided to walk out today and let our voice be heard,” he added.
Other students were shouting “we’re all equal,” “land of the free,” and that the law was “against civil rights.”
During their trek up and down the sidewalk on Arizona 347, MHS sophomore Eleazar Valenzuela said reactions of passers-by were mixed.
“Maricopa is very small, so I think we could have a big impact,” he said.“We’re getting a lot of negative and positive feedback. People are flipping us off, but there are a lot of supportive people too.”
Neither the district nor the police department condemned or condoned the students’ actions, although the department did follow the students during the march.
“Our job here is to make sure they (students) stay safe and the impact for businesses and traffic is as minimal as possible,” Judd said.
He added the protest was peaceful, and that, besides the one student, no laws had been broken during the protest.
“It is absolutely their right to do that (march),” Judd said.
Multiple news outlets have reported that the bill was amended yesterday, with additions to avoid using race or ethnicity as reasons to question suspects and to include potential civil ordinance violations, such as noise, as reasons to question immigration status.