Protests against proposed legislation that would further restrict undocumented immigration continued Monday, just two days after an estimated half million people gathered at the Civic Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Thousands of high school students walked out of classes throughout the San Fernando Valley and other areas of Los Angeles.
Emotions ran high as student protesters from the San Fernando Valley gathered in front of the Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Service Center building across from the Van Nuys Courthouse.
Protesters carried Mexican flags and signs against HR 4437 as they chanted “La raza unida, jamas cera vencida,” roughly translated a united race can never be defeated.
The Senate Judiciary committee passed a revised version of the immigration bill March 27 that stripped the bill of the felony penalty for assisting undocumented workers. The current Senate version of the bill would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship after paying back taxes and a penalty.
Protestors rambled out onto the sidewalk of Van Nuys Boulevard as several drivers traveling on the street honked their horns in support of the protesters, which caused the protestors to get riled up.
“I’ll be happy when the bill is shot down,” Los Angeles Valley College student Travis Froggatt said.
Froggatt was walking by the march when he saw the traffic and commotion, so he decided to join the protesters as someone handed him a sign.
“It’s just not fair anymore,” said 22-year-old Mario Velasquez, who lives a few blocks from the courthouse and decided to “bring support to the immigrants.”
The walkouts in the San Fernando Valley began around 8:30 a.m. about 600 student protesters from Birmingham, Grant, North Hollywood and Van Nuys High Schools were joined by 300 more students from Monroe, San Fernando, Sylmar and Polytechnic High Schools, Lt. David Storaker said.
About 95 percent of the protesters were students with some administrators marching along with some of the groups, he said. Storaker had not known about the planned walk out until Monday morning.
No major vandalism or crimes were reported and no arrests were made, Storaker said.
“It was very peaceful,” he said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the students.”
Police arranged for school buses to pick up students and return them to their schools, he said. He estimated that about 700 students took the buses back to their schools. The remaining students began marching northbound on Van Nuys Boulevard.
Storaker estimated that about 150 to 200 students marched northbound on Van Nuys Boulevard. They seemed to be a little bit more disruptive, he said.
The Police Department established a command post several hundred feet from the protesters. Several dozen officers were dressed in riot gear. Three squads, each made up of about 10 officers and one sergeant, and 10 motorcycle officers accompanied the students marching down Van Nuys Boulevard.
Police and Fire Department officials allowed the students to voice their opinions. The Fire Department was present at the rally to support the police and to be part of the public safety equation, LAFD Battalion Chief Richard Markota said. Police respect the students right to speak openly and freely, but with that right comes responsibility, Markota said.
Students were originally sent to Woodley Park, but no media was present so they headed to the Civic Center in Van Nuys, Storaker said.
Other demonstrations took place around the city, including downtown in the same area where about 500,000 protestors gathered March 25.
“There are other demonstrations going on throughout the city,” Storaker said.
Several schools around the Valley implemented a lockdown March 28. North Hollywood High School was on lockdown until 8:45 a.m. Monroe High School also issued a lockdown, according to a student assistant who would not reveal her name. School officials were not available for further comment.
Victor Flores can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.