Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Austin Students Walkout

There I was, eating enchiladas mole at Las Manitas, trying not to make a big deal out of John Dee Graham standing right next to me, when, through the window, Congress Avenue turned red, white, and green with chanting students …

500 high school students from Austin area high schoools marched to the state capitol Friday where they rallied for immigrant rights in opposition to a threatened federal crackdown.

Students marched up Congress Ave. shortly before 2:00 p.m. and rallied along the wide sidewalk just outside the capitol gates.

Dressed mostly in white t-shirts and carrying various sized flags of Mexico, students chanted “Me-xi-co, Me-xi-co, Me-xi-co” and “Hell No, We Won’t Go!”

“We’re here to work. We’re not criminals!” declared one hand-made sign. “Viva Mexico, Si Se Puede” said another, echoing the famous slogan of Cesar Chavez, “Yes, We Can!”

“We Pay Taxes,” said a slogan written in black marker on the back of a white t-shirt. “Without US Mexicans, the US is Nothing,” said a posterboard sign in black and white. A few young women wore petit-sized flags tucked to the fronts of their shirts.

The students were greeted with frequent honks from passing cars as drivers waved and gave thumbs up’ to the impromptu demonstration for immigrant rights and dignity. Sometimes the car would be a mint-condition Chevy SUV, full of students waving Mexican flags from the windows.

One demonstrator, with his face half covered by a bandana made from a Mexican flag said most of the students were between the ages of 15 and 18. Others identified themselves as from Reagan, LBJ, and Garza high schools in Austin.

“I was on lunch break from Garza High School,” said 19-year-old Daniel Dimas, “and I heard the people walking shouting ay, ay, ay!’ So I pulled up beside them and played my Spanish music real loud and said, Do you need some support?’ So I ended up here!” Dimas held a Mexican flag mounted on a short pole that he waved as he led chants.

“Who made this country?” asked Dimas before he turned back to his newfound friends and shouted,”Who likes beans?” and “Who likes tortillas?” He could have asked also about caramel-colored lollypops, which seemed very popular with the crowd.

“You see what I mean,” says Dimas, smiling at the robust cheers that answered his questions. “We’re a whole new diverse group that this country needs. And we’re not going anywhere. What else can I say?” Of course, he had more to say:

“We built this country. We are nearly half the population. Even if they stop us, we’re going to come back. They’re not going to stop us. We’ve been here too long.”

Sixteen-year-old Vanessa Villa from Vista Ridge High School in nearby Cedar Park said she had planned to march next Tuesday, but on the spur of the moment this morning, students started walking from the high school toward the capitol, a distance of 24 miles.

“We’ve been walking all day, since 10:30!,” exclaimed Villa.

“We’re that proud!” said 15-year-old Jacki Caballero of Cedar Park, recalling the long walk down FM 1431 to Highway 183 where the students caught a bus.

“We’re the ones who created this place!” said Caballero.

“And we’re working for all immigrants,” said Villa, “not just Mexicans, but Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, too.”

An adult passes through the crowd with flyers announcing a national day of action here on April 10 (at 4pm). On Saturday (April 1) the annual Cesar Chavez march is also scheduled to highlight immigrant rights.

Leading up to last Saturday’s immigrant rights march held in Los Angeles, students there staged walkouts. That march topped a million people, and students across the country have continued walkouts this past week.

The afternoon was unusually warm for late March, and one student was taken away by ambulance for apparent heat exhaustion. She was only one block from the capitol.

At the main entrance to the capitol grounds, some students sat shoulder-to-shoulder along low stone walls, occasionally joining in chants or making “waves” from one end of the wall to the other with a ripple of dancing hands.

Other students enjoyed the rally in the modest shade of small trees. Still others led chants and cheers from the warmed up sidewalk along 11th Street.

When a television cameraman moved into position behind the sidewalk crowd they turned their attention from passing traffic to face the camera.

“No, no,” explained the cameraman, “face the street!”

When the students first arrived at the capitol, the Austin police department lined up eight motorcycle patrols along the curb of the sidewalk. But with students in a cheerful, peaceful, and sometimes playful mood, police soon retreated to the shady side of the street.

Tourists passing through the main gate to the capitol grounds made their ways gently through the crowd of students. It was impossible not to note that two Anglo women passed through the crowd walking their Chihuahua.

After about an hour of rallying, students began to peel away from the rally, many of them leaving by way of the nearby bus stop where they could be seen lining up to board buses and Dillos (the smaller downtown shuttles).

Afterword, with Obscenities

If you visit the streets of Austin often enough, you’ll see occasional t-shirts that say, “F**k y’all, I’m from Texas,” a trend that might possibly be blamed on the cultural influence of Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard who wrote a song with a very similar title a few years back, but who of course sings the song with a great deal of wry glee.

This is just a long way of introducing the context for one carefully lettered t-shirt in red, white, and green marker that was covered up most of the time. But for a few minutes the student took off his outer t-shirt (yes it was a guy thing) revealing the back panel of his his inner white-t, lettered with the kind of font that you sometimes see in family names written on the rear windows of cars and pickup trucks.

“F**k Y’all,” said the t-shirt, “I’m from Mexico.” It was a total work of art.

GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush appears in Dime’s Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: gmosesx@prodigy.net.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail