9OYS Continuing Coverage
After TUSD vote: smoke bombs, water balloons, passion
Board votes to let Mexican-American studies director go, crowds outside outraged
Several hundred Mexican-American studies supporters gather outside district board room to watch Tuesday night's meeting. When the vote came down, they weren't happy. Video by kgun9.com
After someone set off a smoke bomb, masks quickly appeared
At one point officers appeared to converge on a protester. The crowd chanted "let him go!" In the end officers made no arrests.
Inside the meeting, some protesters zip-tied themselves to one another.
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tensions rose as the Tucson Unified School District board drew closer to its Tuesday late night vote on whether to oust the Mexican-American studies director. At one point, the meeting was recessed because the crowd of dozens of MAS program supporters waved signs, handcuffed themselves to each other and chanted inside the board room
. The same happened outside, but with several hundred people and smoke bombs and water balloons in the mix.
Those supporters outside watched the meeting projected on a screen. They cheered, listening to the people inside speak to the board in support of the program and its director, Sean Arce, during the public comment period.
When the meeting was recessed because of disruptions inside the board room
, crowds gathered around the window to the room.
“Who's education?,” they chanted. “Our education!"
Then came time for the vote on whether to let the Arce go. Many expected the passing of the motion, and they booed when it was announced.
“I think it's just wrong what's going on right here,” Alexandro Escamilla told KGUN9 News right after the 3-2 vote. “There's a lot of ignorance that is leading the movement against us.”
“I'm upset that we have to move forward with what I think is a really short-sighted plan for this district,” board member Adelita Grijalva told KGUN9 after the meeting. Other board members left through a back door.
Tensions soon rose. Some people were seen throwing smoke bombs. The remains of a few water balloons were scattered across the street.
KGUN9 doesn't know what started one mob, but it appeared TUSD security got caught up with someone who may have thrown a smoke bomb.
“Let him go. Let him go. Let him go,” the crowd chanted.
Officers escorted no one away and later declined to explain what happened.
KGUN9 asked Grijalva after the meeting about the rising tensions. “When you get a lot of people together that are very passionate about what's going on, sometimes tempers flare,” she said. “What I understand from people that are out here is they're very upset and I don't blame them. I’m upset too.”
The crowd eventually scattered.
“Save your bail money for the fight ahead,” one man announced with a megaphone, encouraging people to leave before anyone got into trouble.
Meanwhile, as a result of the meeting, Arce will soon be left without a job.
“What’s next?” reported Kevin Keen asked him.
“I'm going to continue my education, finish my PhD work at the U of A, continue to work with the community, organize with the community and make sure we get a board that is representative of the students in our district.”