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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 3/31/2006 8:59:48 AM EST

Immigration tensions spark flag-burning in A.J.

By Blake Herzog, Tribune
March 31, 2006

This week’s tensions over immigration reform literally caught fire in the East Valley on Thursday when students raised a Mexican flag over Apache Junction High School — and then other students yanked it down and burned it.

“I know (they) shouldn’t have burned the Mexican flag,” said Jacob Stewart, a 16-year-old sophomore. “I heard it was raised above the American flag and that just irked me.”

He said the turbulence was tied to the newsmaking debates in the state Legislature and in Congress, where ideas from offering illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship to making them felons are being considered.

Freshman Chelsea Garcia, 15, and junior Brittany Ramage, 16, said the unrest had more to do with longrunning racial tensions at the school.

“(This week’s events) might have sparked a little more anger,” Ramage said. “But kids are not very deep about that stuff.”

The Hispanic student who brought the Mexican flag said he was responding to a racist remark directed at him Wednesday. The flagraising, flag-burning and shoving match that followed happened before most students arrived at school.

Six students — three Hispanic and three white — will be disciplined, principal Chad Wilson said.

Officials with the Apache Junction Unified School District would not specify what kind of punishment the six students face.

Wilson said in a letter sent home to parents that there would be “increased supervision, including additional police officers, on the campus over the next couple of days.”

District spokeswoman Carol Shepherd said the additional security was being brought in as a precaution.

“It’s one of those situations where if you didn’t have additional security and something did happen, we’d be challenged by parents about why we didn’t do anything,” she said.

Wilson said the increased security would include four off-duty police officers the district hired as security guards, along with its regular school resource officer.

By early afternoon Thursday, district officials said the environment on campus had sufficiently calmed down to continue preparing students to take Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test next week.

“It’s much more conducive to quality learning today than it could have been,” Superintendent Gregory Wyman said.

Shepherd said parents were calling the district office about false rumors their children had brought home: “That the American flag had been burned — not true. That this had happened four or five times before — not true.”

The confrontation happened at the flagpole in front of the school’s Navy ROTC building, but Maj. Bill Parker, one of the organization’s advisers, said he did not know whether any of his students were involved.

He said ROTC provides diversity training to all its students, and about 20 percent of his NJROTC students are Hispanic.

About 17 percent of the overall student body is Latino, according to the district.

Wilson said he e-mailed teachers separately Thursday about the incident, but left it up to them to decide if and how they should address the issue in their classrooms.

He emphasized that six out of the school’s 1,618 students were involved in the flag fight, and many students might not have the same problems dealing with the racially charged immigration debate.

School flagpoles have been lightning rods across the country this week, including an incident in which a Houston high school principal was disciplined after he flew a Mexican flag underneath his campus’ U.S. and state flags.

A new political awareness among high school students has also been grabbing attention, as thousands of teenagers have walked out ofclasses to join rallies nationwide.

More than 100 students from Mesa’s Carson Junior High and Westwood High schools marched in protest on Mesa streets Tuesday.

Organizers of last Friday’s protest that drew 20,000 people of all ages and shut down miles of 24th Street in Phoenix are gearing up for another one on April 10.

During a news conference Wednesday, they begged high school students not to join in until after school lets out.

Former Mesa resident Mercedes Mercado-Ochoa, who attended the conference as a member of Unidos in Arizona, said many of the students are part of struggling families and may be the American-born children of illegal immigrants.

She said the way to get kids to protest responsibly is to provide them with positive role models, rather than encourage bad choices such as those made on both sides of the Apache Junction dispute.

“We need to be educating them on what César Chávez was all about — he wasn’t a boxer,” she said.

“And about Martin Luther King — what he wanted for the people.”
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 9:10:11 AM EST

Link Posted: 3/31/2006 9:27:05 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/31/2006 10:17:14 AM EST by Az_Redneck]
I wrote the reporter who did the article stating that the boys who burned the flag should be regarded as heros and NOT be punished for what they did. What the Mexican kids did was an act of sedition and possibly an act of war.

I don't know if he was the right person to email, but it's a start. I might just call my senators. Afterall, the schools do get federal funding...

ETA: I did call Senator Kyl's office and Rick Renzi's and let them know these boys don't need to be punished, but praised.

Anyone up for serving detention? I'll gladly serve it out for them!

Link Posted: 3/31/2006 9:34:43 AM EST
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 11:27:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/31/2006 8:59:07 PM EST by sWs1]
If I've learned ANYTHING from playing enough Battlefield 2, it's that once the enemy captures a point by raising their country's flag, the position gets arty'd . . .

for ROTC
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 1:07:40 PM EST
this made my day. my faith in my generation has been renewed
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 1:14:21 PM EST
I called the Supers office today and told the Receptionist that this soldier respects the fact that the students stood up for the flag I have pledged my life to defend and that if I ever find out thier names, a Ruth's Chris steak dinner is on me! She was kinda bitchy, BTW. I guess sombody posted her number in a different thread or something. So by 3pm when I called I bet she was a lil frazzled.
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 2:00:30 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/31/2006 2:01:04 PM EST by tfod]
Apache Junction Unified School District.


Good kids.
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 3:57:04 PM EST
+1 azcopwannabe, I wanted to find out who they were so I could by em lunch!!
Link Posted: 3/31/2006 8:04:06 PM EST
Link Posted: 4/1/2006 5:33:40 AM EST
I just heard in a thread in GD that the kids who set the flag on fire is being charged with Arson!
Link Posted: 4/1/2006 7:59:05 AM EST
I will send more matchs.
Link Posted: 4/1/2006 2:14:29 PM EST
unfortunately the arson charge is predictable. It may be free speech to burn a flag, but they set a fire on a school campus.

Its not WHAT they were burning, it was the fact that they were burning something at all.
Link Posted: 4/2/2006 5:49:03 AM EST
Link Posted: 4/2/2006 9:29:36 AM EST

unfortunately the arson charge is predictable. It may be free speech to burn a flag, but they set a fire on a school campus.

Its not WHAT they were burning, it was the fact that they were burning something at all.

You're right....they should've immediately pissed on it to pu it out!!
Link Posted: 4/2/2006 9:52:17 AM EST

Originally Posted By azjeeper:
unfortunately the arson charge is predictable. It may be free speech to burn a flag, but they set a fire on a school campus.

Its not WHAT they were burning, it was the fact that they were burning something at all.

You're right....they should've immediately pissed on it to pu it out!!

I think if you burn the american flag they will call it freedom of speach but burning something they don't disrespect.... well they consider it arson.
Link Posted: 4/2/2006 6:15:48 PM EST
well said sinistralrifleman well said
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 11:05:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By azcopwannabee:
I just heard in a thread in GD that the kids who set the flag on fire is being charged with Arson!

They will not be charged with arson because their actions do not meet the elements of the crime.

In Arizona arson is: Knowingly damaging a structure that is occupied by knowingly causing a fire

or explosion. An occupied structure is a structure that one or more human beings is or is likely to

be present or near. A dwelling house whether occupied or not, is an occupied structure. If they are

charged with a crime it will likely be reckless burning or some other misdemeanor, interfering with

education, etc. They are definately guilty of being proud Americans.
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 1:20:59 PM EST
Bravo young Americans.

-1 for not pissing on it to put the fire out.
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 9:23:32 PM EST
This is a great article...

Link Posted: 4/6/2006 9:45:58 AM EST

Originally Posted By asu174:
This is a great article...


I liked the quote at the bottom of the article pasted below:

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigration and being an American.

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
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