Arizona immigration bill: Colorado students plan afternoon protest walkout

Yesterday, Denver Public Schools announced on a ban on all work-related travel to Arizona due to the recent passage of a controversial immigration bill that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott McInnis digs and likely Democratic opponent John Hickenlooper would rather not discuss.

As such, DPS probably won't bring the hammer down too hard on students who choose to participate in a student walkout planned this afternoon to protest what organizers describe as Arizona's "racial-profiling law."

"We've been talking to administrators at schools and the police department," notes Chandra Russo, communications coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "We want to do this in a way that doesn't harm anyone or draw any complaints -- but that makes a point."

According to Russo, the concept for today's walkout came together in an extremely organic fashion following a meeting last Friday. Rather than establishing a centralized online home to coordinate the plan, students at the high school and college levels here and in Fort Collins have been communicating via text message and on their personal Facebook pages to buoy support for the event.

In Denver, participants will gather at 2 p.m. at four locations -- Viking Park, Sunken Gardens, City Park and Lincoln High School -- prior to a march to the Capitol. They'll rally there from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with speakers to rouse the crowd. Get more details below.

Russo hopes the Denver turnout, which she expects to be in the hundreds, will cheer "all the folks holding 24-hour vigils at the capitol in Phoenix" as well as demonstrate "why there's an urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform."

Although the Arizona bill has pushed the immigration topic to the forefront of the national conversation, Russo stresses that groups like hers have been ratcheting up pressure over the past year.

"Our movement has grown and grown, and more and more youth have gotten involved," she says. "We raised enough money to take a bus to Washington, D.C. for a 200,000-person-strong march, and took three buses to Las Vegas to walk with Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

"The Arizona law is a draconian step in the wrong direction. We know people got scared and made rash decisions. But our broken system is tearing people apart. It's intolerable. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are passionate about this issue, and they know an immigration reform package has to happen -- and happen this year."

With that goal in mind, CIRC is participating in more immigration-related events on May 1 here and statewide. Learn more about them, plus today's student walkout, in the following releases:

April 30 walkout:

Walk Outs to Protest Arizona Law

Denver Students Join in State and National Action

COLORADO -- On April 30, hundreds of high school and college students and their allies will hold a walk-out throughout the Denver area to protest Arizona law SB 1070 and call for comprehensive immigration reform. The Arizona law, which requires that police officers arrest anyone who cannot prove their immigration status on the spot, is seen as requiring police officers to participate in racial profiling.

WHAT: Hundreds of Denver students and allies to walk out of area high schools and colleges and convene at the Captiol


Viking Park (Speer & Federal) @ 2pm

Sunken Gardens (11th & Speer) @ 2pm

City Park @ 2pm

Lincoln HS @ 12pm

Capitol Building 2:30-4:30 with speakers beginning at 3:30

WHY: To protest Arizona racial profiling law SB 1070

May 1 events:

May 1st Actions for Immigration Reform Across the State

Denver to issue leadership score cards to Senators Udall and Bennet

COLORADO -- On May 1, hundreds of youth, faith leaders, businesses, environmentalists, farmers, immigrants and allies will gather at Sunken Gardens Park in Denver to grade the leadership of Colorado's Senators on Immigration Reform. The event, entitled "Leadership for Immigration Reform: Grade Your Senators on May 1st," comes the day after score cards on Senate Leadership are to be prepared by the Reform Immigration for America Campaign.

The May 1 Denver event coincides with other actions being held in Colorado in Longmont, Boulder, Montrose, Yuma and Glenwood Springs. Hundreds of thousands are expected to join solidarity rallies across the country.

WHAT: Hundreds of Coloradans to gather to grade Senators Udall and Bennet on their leadership for Immigration Reform

WHERE: Sunken Gardens Park on Speer Blvd, between 8th and 10th Ave, Denver

WHEN: 12pm, Saturday, May 1

WHO: Students, faith leaders, businesses, environmentalists, farmers, immigrants, allies

WHY: To grade Colorado Senators on their leadership for a comprehensive immigration reform that works for families, workers and the US economy

Supporting Organizations: Reform Immigration for America, Rights for All People, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Mi Familia Vota, Service Employees International Union Local 105, Metro Organizations for People, Padres and Jovenes Unido, Latina Initiative, Centro Humanitario, Colorado Progressive Coalition and COLOR, 9to5 Association of Working Women.

Other events on May 1:

Boulder, Courthouse on the Boulder Mall, 1pm, more information: (303) 443-9899

Longmont, march starting 17th and Main St., 11am, more information: (303) 485-1622

Montrose, Centennial Plaza, 433 So. 1st St., 1 pm, more information: (970) 417-6538

Yuma, Yuma City Park, 9:30 am, more information: (970) 630-4337

Glenwood Springs, Sayre Park, 1pm, more information: (919) 360-2920

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts