San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday, April 23, 1998

Students Hold March In Concord
Protesters target lack of educational access.
By TANYA SCHEVITZ, Chronicle Staff Writer

About 2,000 students from Bay Area high schools walked out yesterday morning and marched through Concord to protest measures attacking immigrants, bilingual education and affirmative action.

Oakland Technical High School senior Evelyn Avalos said she had to join the demonstration that also protested inadequate funding of schools. Her motivation lay before her in a stroller -- her 4-month-old daughter, Angelica.

``Not only is it for my future, it is for her future. Anybody should get a chance to go to school and learn about their past, our history,'' said Avalos, 18, who immigrated to the United States from Guatemala.

California voters have passed initiatives targeting immigrants and eliminating affirmative action for university admissions. A vote on a measure to end bilingual education will come in June.

Gabriel Hernandez of the Oakland-based Voices of Struggle, which organized the event, said teenagers chose to march in Concord because they perceived it as tolerant of racism, and are critical of its new $21.4 million police station.

``We want to know why they are putting so much money into jails when our schools are falling apart and we can't buy books,'' said Angela Deleon, a senior at Westmoor High School in Daly City. She said her school has boarded-up windows, leaky roofs and overcrowded classrooms.

Concord police closed off streets to give students from schools in Daly City to Antioch a clear path during the hourlong march.

The department received an anonymous tip about the event Monday and had 92 officers ready. About 40 officers in riot gear stood before the police department on Galindo Street, but the protesters remained on a field about 100 yards away listening to speakers and music.

Concord police Corporal Doug Moore said the crowd was well-behaved. There were no arrests, but there was one incident of fruit- throwing and one of rock-tossing.

Two students from Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco were arrested during an impromptu protest at Balboa High School as they headed to Concord, said San Francisco police Captain Richard Bruce.

Mount Diablo High School vice principal Joseph Mangiaracina said about 300 of the Concord school's 1,235 students walked out. He said students should have been in class and will be marked absent, but he admitted he was proud so many students were interested in the political process.