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Colo. School Bans Flags Amid Protests

Dozens of high school students protested a temporary school policy forbidding students from displaying the U.S. flag, as well as flags from other countries, amid racial tensions following immigration rallies.

Skyline High School Principal Tom Stumpf said American flags were brazenly waved in the faces of Hispanic students and in one case a Mexican flag was thrown into the face of another student.

"When it involves the American flag and its abuse in vilifying other people, we simply will not tolerate it," Stumpf said. "They were using the symbol derisively as misguided patriotism."

Students were warned about the policy Friday and several were suspended, although Stumpf would not provide details. Then, about 100 students protested during lunch time.

Student Dustin Carlson told Denver station KCNC-TV that he was suspended for two days.

"I'm getting suspended for it and personally I think that's uncalled for," he said. "If this country means freedom, then why can't we fly our own flag? It's ridiculous."

On Monday, about 150 high school students, including some from Skyline, protested in Longmont.

"People are taking it to a whole other level," said Laura Avitia. "I don't think they know why we were protesting."

Thousands of high school students Friday in California, Texas, Nevada and other states protested the tough immigration laws proposed in the House. Some waved Mexican flags and carried signs saying "We are not criminals."

Students in California, Texas, Nevada and other states held demonstrations Friday. Most were peaceful, but there was a stabbing during a protest in Virginia and another student was arrested in Las Vegas.

The student protests coincided with a two-day summit in Cancun, Mexico, where President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are embroiled in an intense debate over immigration legislation.

The protests were also intertwined with the 79th anniversary of the birth of the late Cesar Chavez, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers union who became a champion of poor, Hispanic agricultural workers in the 1960s and '70s.

At San Diego's Chicano Park, students waved Mexican flags and distributed leaflets explaining a provision of a bill approved in the House of Representatives that calls for a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration.

A police spokesman said there were about 1,500 protesters at the park, although a school district spokeswoman put it near 2,000.

Jessica Hurtado, a U.S.-born high school senior whose parents came from Mexico and are now legal residents, said the House legislation would "affect pretty much everyone I know: aunts, uncles, friends."

At a protest that drew about 75 people in Virginia's Fairfax County, police said a high school student was stabbed.


The 16-year-old boy was hospitalized with injuries that police said were not believed to be life-threatening. Two teenagers were arrested; police said they did not know whether the suspects had been among the protesters.

In Woodbridge, Va., a Hispanic second grader and kindergarten student were sent home from school for wearing homemade T-shirts that read "Latinos Forever" in Spanish. The elementary principal said he feared the T-shirts would be disruptive, given the widespread student protests.

"How is (a T-shirt) going to disrupt a kindergarten class?" asked Carmen Soriano, the younger boy's mother.

In Las Vegas, police and school officials said at least 3,000 students, drawn together by text messages and cell phone calls, left high schools, middle schools and a community college after the morning bell.

"We're not here to start trouble. We're just here to work," said Marcela Guevara, the 14-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants.

One student was arrested for carrying a gun but no shots were fired, Las Vegas police Sgt. Chris Jones said.

A few miles away, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke at a meeting of Hispanic publishers. He told reporters the students would be better off letting their voices be heard after school and on weekends.

"The children need to stay in school," Gonzales said.

As many as 3,000 people marched through downtown Fort Smith, Ark., while at least 2,000 protesters, most of them high school students, clogged streets in downtown El Paso, Texas, during a third day of protests there.

In Arizona, about 900 to 1,000 Tucson middle school students and another 300 high school students walked out of classes.

There were only a few small protests in the giant Los Angeles Unified School District, where a week of outcry began with tens of thousands of students leaving classes Monday. The protests waned as police and school authorities, alarmed by several instances of students roaming on freeways, took a tough stand against walkouts.

"The more we come out, the more people will start paying attention to us. We will not stay quiet," said Zaira Mendoza, a junior at Mission Bay High School in San Diego.

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