Rowdy protesters in Tucson have struck again. And this time, it involves riot police.
Those protesters are hell-bent on keeping the district's shocking, and concerning, Mexican-American studies program as-is. And while they're causing a ruckus to prove it, there could be a lot more behind the story -- mainly, who's behind the protests.
At a Tucson Unified School District school board meeting on Tuesday -- which was a make-up for one canceled after students chained themselves to board-room desks on April 26 -- riot police were called in to restore order after program supporters become restless during the public input section of the meeting.
Local station KGUN-TV describes the scene:
Nine On Your Side Reporter Ileana Diaz was inside at the time and says after the call to the audience the crowd motioned to the Board to continue hearing from the public. The microphones were turned off and Board Members called for Tucson Police to come inside the room.
Officers in full riot gear escorted Board Members to safety and took control of the room. Police asked people to be calm so the meeting could continue. After about 20 minutes the Board Members walked into the room and resumed with the meeting.
The crowd turned uncivil at Tuesday night's TUSD board meeting to discuss its ethnic studies program.
A call to the audience became an opportunity for audience members to confront the district board about its plans for the program. It grew raucous at times, with one man saying the board's actions were "disgraceful," and that he hoped the board members would "go to hell for it."
The meeting has been called to order. Security officials are standing in rows, as people chant "No vote."
KOLD-TV has a slide show from the meeting here.
KVOA-TV reports seven people were escorted out of the meeting for interrupting by reading prepared statements. There were also several arrests made, but no reports on exactly how many.
So what exactly has the protesters upset? The answer may surprise you. As we've previously reported, the district isn't trying to ban the program outright. Instead, it wants to make a controversial history class -- that calls for "death to the invaders" and was found to advocate overthrowing the U.S. government -- an elective instead of allowing it to substitute for required history credits. That's it. And the disturbing class would still be available to students.
But that's not the rhetoric coming from the supporters. They're trumpeting the message that the district is trying to eliminate the program altogether, a tactic used to stir up anger and action.
"Last week brave students from UNIDOS took over the Tucson Union School Board meeting and turned it into a pachanga," a petition e-mail supporting the student action, and obtained by The Blaze, says. "They chained themselves to the seats to prevent the school board from voting to put ethnic studies on the chopping block. Their action worked."
Outrage over the program isn't split down liberal vs. conservative lines. As local citizen journalist Mike Shaw recently found out, some of the biggest advocates of removing the program and class are liberals and Democrats. He also found those who believe the student protest movement is being organized by a state university professor:
According to Shaw, the students are getting support from more then just one academic. While reviewing footage from the April 26 chain-in, he noticed something interesting. According to him, Ward Churchill (the controversial, one-time University of Colorado professor who was fired for his views on 9/11) was spotted supporting the protests:
So what became of the Tuesday meeting? Well, nothing. The board decided not to vote on the Mexican-American studies class pending the completion of community forums on the issue. Another vote has not been scheduled.
"It is clear there is a great deal of misperception and miscommunication about the reason for consideration of this item," district President John Pedicone said in a statement. "This has resulted in heightened levels of frustration."