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Return to class, mayor advises

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Recalling his own days as a student leading walkouts during civil-rights demonstrations in 1968, Villaraigosa added: “Yes, I was involved in protests and I paid a price. It was one of the reasons I was forced to leave school.” Sheriff Lee Baca said deputies will pursue charges against adults who are involved in future demonstrations. “We believe that it was some adults who organized these (student protests) and encouraged the kids to go on freeways,” Baca said. “In California, there is a law that makes them accountable for these actions.” Superintendent Roy Romer said a letter is being sent to parents warning them they could be prosecuted if their children are chronically truant. And Police Chief William Bratton said the Los Angeles Police Department also has a separate program that could result in $200 in fines and 20 days of community service for students who are cited for truancy. After a second day of walkouts by protesting students, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with school and law enforcement officials Tuesday in urging a return to classes and threatening a crackdown on truants. Officials estimated that 8,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students and 3,600 from neighboring districts participated in rain-soaked marches and rallies demanding rights for illegal immigrants. LAUSD officials estimated that Tuesday’s walkout, along with one Monday in which almost 25,000 students participated, cost the district nearly $950,000 in state funding. The weekday demonstrations followed massive protests Saturday and Sunday, where as many as 500,000 people rallied against proposed federal legislation that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally. “On Saturday, when we had a half-million people out here, that was the proper use of a demonstration and protest,” Villaraigosa said in an afternoon news conference at City Hall. “Now, our students belong back in school, … in their classrooms, where they can have further discussions about this issue.” “Some of these kids might end up cleaning up the freeways they were demonstrating on,” Bratton said. Dampened by the rain, Tuesday’s demonstrations were less festive than those Monday. Students chanted but did not engage the public, as they did the previous day. Few drivers honked horns in support, and business owners and residents did not stand outside and cheer. “We’re doing this for our people,” said Vanessa Morataya, a sophomore from Birmingham High School. “If we don’t fight this, who else is going to fight it? “A lot of people are saying (the legislation) is going to be approved. We want to show them that we are a lot of people, and we’ll stand up for what we believe.” Some student protesters had gathered at the Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Service Center in Van Nuys by midday. “We want everyone to know that you can’t mess with us, you can’t stop us,” said Jon Garcia, a 12th-grader from Birmingham High. “Even though we’re kids, even though it’s raining, we’re letting everyone know that we deserve to be heard. “We will not stop until this bill is not passed. We will not drop this.” In classrooms throughout the Valley, immigration remained a hot topic. At least two high schools – Birmingham and Verdugo Hills – held forums for students to air their views without cutting class. “By leaving campus, their voices aren’t heard,” said Birmingham Principal Marsha Coates of her school’s two student-run forums. “They’re just walking around, costing taxpayers a lot of money. It’s just a ditch day – and they will be marked as truant.” Student Body President Briana Weatherspoon hosted a lunchtime forum attended by 40 students, some of whom stressed the importance of attending class. Outside the school, two students marched in the rain with a Mexican flag, their faces shrouded by bandannas. “Write a letter to your congressman instead of walking out,” said Katherine Campos, 17, of Reseda. “If you walk out, do it after school or on the weekend. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to criticism.” At Verdugo Hills High in Tujunga, students on lunch break filed into the auditorium to talk about immigration. Armando Cuadros, 17, of Sunland was one of those who spoke, and said afterward that he feels compelled to defend illegal immigrants. “People complain about abortion – you know, about a baby – and what if that baby would (find) the cure for AIDS?” Armando said. “It’s the same thing for immigrants. What if that immigrant could find the cure for cancer?” At Los Angeles City Hall, where thousands of the students had gathered in protest over the weekend and Monday, about 75 students huddled beneath trees seeking shelter from the sporadic rain. They waved flags and shouted to motorists driving past on First Street as extra police officers were brought in to provide security. Officials said there were no problems reported as a result of the small demonstration. Eduardo “Piolin” Sotelo, a popular Spanish-language disc jockey who helped attract 500,000 people to march in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, during his Tuesday show urged protesting teenagers to return to the classroom. “Please, parents, support your children, but the right way,” he said. Staff Writers Troy Anderson, Dana Bartholomew, Alex Dobuzinskis and Rachel Uranga contributed to this report. Josh Kleinbaum, (818) 713-3669 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more