Students march on Colorado Capitol for immigrant rights
the associated press
DENVER ” Waving U.S. and Mexican flags and clogging busy streets, about 1,000 high school students and adults descended on the state Capitol Wednesday for a rally to support immigrant rights, police said.
Marchers jammed inbound lanes of Speer Boulevard, a major route to downtown, and temporarily blocked other intersections as they crossed, but no problems were reported, police spokeswoman Virginia Quinones said.
“We are not trying to hurt your country,” said Jorge Macias, a high school sophomore who said he is a U.S. citizen. “It is big enough for everyone.”
Other students carried Puerto Rican and Cuban flags. Many wore white; they were joined by some adults, many of them dressed in red.
The march was the latest in a string of rallies in Colorado and across the country amid the heated national debate on immigration. Many of the demonstrators have said they want more immigrant-friendly policies.
At the Capitol, 17-year-old Adella Lopez read a letter to the crowd asking Colorado Sens. Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar to oppose a House-passed measure that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally.
The letter said the bill’s provisions “are bad policies and dead end for our community.”
Gov. Bill Owens, who was not at the Capitol at the time of the rally, said he believes the students are sincere but found it “odd” that they only demonstrate on school days.
“I’d be much more impressed if I saw these students out marching on a Saturday,” he said.
At least one previous rally was on a Saturday, when more than 50,000 gathered in downtown Denver on March 25, but that was not student-organized demonstration.
Arvizu Derr, 17, a junior at West High School who helped organize Wednesday’s event, said students had spread the word with mobile-phone text messages, Internet posts and fliers.
About 40 state troopers were standing by at the Capitol but the rally was peaceful, Master Trooper Ron Watkins said.
Denver Public Schools spokesman Mark Stevens said he did not know how many students left classes districtwide but that one school reported more than 100.
He said principals and teachers had discouraged students from participating, and absences would be considered unexcused. Any discipline will be handled on a student-by-student basis, he said.
“Our point is you can only get through the curriculum and get through class if your present,” he said.
Stevens said students from other districts also walked out for the rally.
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