Mexican flag burned at Apache Junction HS
East Valley Tribune
Mar. 31, 2006
Tucson, Arizona | Published:
Tensions over immigration reform heightened in the Phoenix area's East Valley Thursday when students raised a Mexican flag over Apache Junction High School and then other students yanked it down and burned it.
"I know (they) shouldn't have burned the Mexican flag," said Jacob Stewart, a 16-year-old sophomore. "I heard it was raised above the American flag and that just irked me."
He said the turbulence was tied to debates going on in the state Legislature and Congress, where ideas ranging from offering illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship to making them felons are being floated.
Freshman Chelsea Garcia, 15, and junior Brittany Ramage, 16, said the unrest had more to do with long-running racial tensions at the school.
The week's events might have sparked some anger, Ramage said, "but kids aren't too deep about that stuff."
The Hispanic student who brought the Mexican flag said he was responding to a remark directed at him Wednesday. The flag-raising, flag-burning, and shoving match that followed happened before most students arrived at school.
Six students three Hispanic and three white will be disciplined, Principal Chad Wilson said.
Officials with the Apache Junction Unified School District would not specify what punishment the six face.
Wilson did say in a letter sent home to parents that there would be "increased supervision, including additional police officers, on the campus over the next couple of days."
School flagpoles have been lightning rods across the country this week, including an incident in which a Houston high-school principal was disciplined after he flew a Mexican flag underneath his campus' U.S. and state flags.
A new political awareness among students has also been grabbing attention, as thousands have walked out on classes to join rallies in Phoenix and elsewhere. More than 100 students from Mesa's Carson Junior High and Westwood High schools marched in protest on Mesa streets Tuesday.