Friday, March 31, 2006

Jurupa High School student suspended and threatened with arrest for organizing pro-immigration reform rally

[UDPATED... scroll down]

But students who ditch class to protest against immigration reform are OK? This is sickening... where's the ACLU when someone's civil rights are really being violated?

MIRA LOMA - In response to recent student protests and walkouts against HR 4437, the House bill that proposes harsher penalties for illegal immigrants, a Jurupa Valley High School senior started making plans Monday to hold a pro-America rally on campus today.

"My original purpose was just to have a rally to support America, to wave flags and tell (the House of Representatives) that there are people out there that believe in what they're doing,'' said 17-year-old Josh Denhalter.

But Denhalter said district and school officials refused to let him hold a rally on campus and suspended him Thursday morning before school for passing out 300 fliers on campus promoting the rally. The rally is now scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon today across the street from the school.

"Now the purpose of the rally is to let everyone know in Southern California you cannot voice your opinions,'' Denhalter said.

Denhalter said despite being told that he will be arrested if he comes within 2,000 feet of the school during his suspension, he is still going to hold the protest.

"If I have to get arrested to stand up for something I believe in, then that's what's got to be done,'' Denhalter said.

This is a total crock, and the school board and superintendent are lying through their teeth. Josh was interviewed yesterday on a local LA radio station, KFI, and first the district tried to quash the rally by telling Josh since he wasn't acting on behalf of an official school club, he couldn't organize an event like this. They told him it was also because the speakers he got to come to the rally weren't accredited. So Josh moved it off campus (across the street) to be held during the school's lunch period. Then the school suspended him for something akin to promoting dangerous activity for fellow students by soliciting an event that would have them leave campus against school rules. But most students at the beginning of the year turned in parent signed passes that allow them to leave the open campus for lunch. Now we've got the excuse that the campus will be in lockdown due to all the students protesting in the LA area. The only problem with that excuse is that this school district had a grand total of 45 students walk out of classes.

He added that open forums were held at Jurupa Valley and Rubidoux high schools Tuesday to discuss the issues.

"We presented it as a better alternative to massively walking out,'' Duchon said.

But this is what Denhalter finds unfair, he said. He said the open forum was more of a one-sided argument led by MEchA, a Chicano organization on campus.

"Anyone opposed to their views felt threatened,'' Denhalter said.

Duchon said most of the views expressed at the forum were against the House legislation, and confirmed that the open mic was led by the MEchA president.

During the interview yesterday Josh said that the one student at the forum who got up to speak in favor of the legislation was jumped the next day at school and beaten by a group of students. I guess MEchA is only for openness if you spew their racist rhetoric.

This is really a disgusting violation of this student's civil rights. He jumped through every hoop the school district put in front of him to try to get this rally together, and now he's threatened with arrest if he comes within 2,000 feet of the rally he organized.

If you're in the area the protest is being held across the street from the school which is located at 10551 Bellegrave Ave., Mira Loma, CA 91752 here in Riverside County near the 15 and 60 interchange. Call the school if you like at (951) 360-2600, or the Jurupa school district at (951) 360-4100, and see what they have to say about the rally.

UPDATE @ 10:00am: Here's the Jurupa school district's email list.

UPDATE @ 11:22am: The official rally site is at (via LibertyPost). Check it out.

UPDATE @ 11:42am: The Press Enterprise has the story as well. Subscription (it is free) is required though so here's the article...

MIRA LOMA - The group Save Our State is planning a rally outside Jurupa Valley High School today to counter protests this week against immigration legislation.

The group is joining with a student, Josh Denhalter, who said he was suspended Thursday after distributing fliers on campus promoting a rally after school officials told him he could not hold it.

"They told me if I show up, I'm going to be arrested," said Denhalter, 17, a senior at Jurupa Valley High School.

He said he tried to organize an on-campus rally after a school-sanctioned one Monday on H.R. 4437, which would make illegal immigration a felony. Dozens of students spoke, most of them against the legislation.

Neither Jurupa Valley Principal Ron Shecklen nor Superintendent Elliott Duchon would confirm that Denhalter has been suspended.

Duchon, however, said students who are suspended are not allowed to come on school property or come within sight of the school and attempt to influence students.

He said he was concerned about the involvement of Save Our State, which publicized the rally and encouraged students to attend. The rally starts at 11 a.m., and the lunch period does not begin until 11:30 a.m.

"That's essentially inciting students to break school rules," he said. "It's very divisive."

Joseph Turner, executive director of Save Our State, said the group would not have become involved if the school had given equal time to the students who want to support tighter immigration rules.

Duchon and Shecklen expressed concern that tensions are high over the issue. They said rumors have circulated about possible racial violence, but Duchon also said he has found no evidence of a credible threat.

UPDATE @ 12:38pm: KCAL 9 news was live at the protest and reports that it has been peaceful despite a counter protest by MEchA. Josh is at the protest and has yet to be arrested. KCAL promised continued reporting from the scene and an interview later with Josh.

UPDATE @ 2:36pm: The Minutemen came out to support Josh Denhalter's rally today as well.

Denhalter was joined by members of the Save Our State and Minuteman groups who carried a large number of American flags.

Members of groups identified as MEchA and Brown Berets counter-protested across the street from his group.

Denhalter was joined by about 100 people, with about 30 on the other side.

The demonstrators were relatively peaceful, chanting back and forth. One side yelled, "Racist MEchA go away" while the other chanted, "Racist hate, save our state" and "El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido" ("The people united never will be defeated.")

[...] Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen group, was joined by a handful of his group's members. He said he attended primarily to support Denhalter's First Amendment right to protest.

Denhalter said he was suspended Thursday by school officials when he passed out fliers promoting the rally.

Excellent. So far everything says Josh was not arrested. I've got a bunch of TiVo'd news at home I'll scan to make sure. He's supposed to be on KFI later today and KCAL 9 promised an interview with him as well.

UPDATE @ 11:03am 4/1: Looks like the rally went just fine. Josh was not arrested and the Southern California coverage there was good. The Save or State bulletin board has notes from local citizens who were at the rally and who've seen Josh interviewed on KTLA, ABC, and KCAL. Here's another article on the rally from the Daily Bulletin with links to a photo gallery and video of the rally.

UPDATE @ 9:56am 4/3: See new post.