The Main Stream

May 4, 2011 9:03 AM

Arrests made at TUSD board meeting; no decision on Ethnic Studies

TUCSON - This morning there is still no decision over TUSD's controversial Ethnic Studies Program. Tuesday night's meeting lasted nearly five hours, in another attempt to find a solution after last week's discussion was cut short.

The meeting, which started at 5:30 pm, ended at around 10:15. According to Tucson Police, arrests were made at the meeting, however the number of arrests and the charges have not yet been released. TPD also has not released whether those arrested were students, parents or other members of the community.

Security was extremely tight before and during the board meeting, and the crowd spilled into the streets.

"We must tonight enhance our security precautions," TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman said at the start of the meeting.

A crowd gathered outside TUSD Headquarters hours before the 5:30 start time. Each person entering the board room was "wanded" by police, who also surrounded the building.

The meeting began with a 30 minute call to the audience.

"It's shameful that you have all of these cops all around us. It's outrageous that you treat brown people as we're going to be the criminals," Isabel Garcia said.

"We want them to learn the things that we learned from our grandparents, to respect one another," Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith said.

"It's a war on our values, on our heritage, on our culture, on the way we live our life in this city," Jeff Rogers said.

"Those children that were chained here, what future do they have?.... Those children need to be educated, not to indoctrinate them," Nina Samuels said.

When the call to the audience ended, some in the crowd continued to come up to the microphone to speak.

"I'm petitioning for an extension of this period," one man said.

Stegeman and TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone asked those who refused to stop speaking to be taken out of the building.

A loud crowd grew outside while inside, the discussion eventually began again.

"The board members also do have freedom of speech," Stegeman said.

"This state is purposefully writing legislation that attack people based on the color of their skin," TUSD board member Adelita Grijalva said.

The meeting ended with no official decision on the future of the Ethnic Studies Program. The Board has decided to organize community forums to gather input from parents and students.

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