Thursday, July 7, 2011

Arizona encourages hates

Violent Messages | Currents Feature | Tucson Weekly

Jan. 8 changed the playing field. That's what Roberto Rodriguez keeps telling himself when he thinks about a series of messages left on his UA office voicemail.

The assistant professor in the UA's Department of Mexican American Studies is an outspoken supporter of the Tucson Unified School District's ethnic-studies classes—which are considered illegal in the eyes of state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal.

Rodriguez takes out a small digital tape recorder and presses play. A male voice spills out: "Hey, I'm part Native American; I'm part white. Hey, you think you're going to come and take my fucking shit away from me, asshole? ... Because you're fucking Mexican. You're going to find a magnum up your fucking ass, Mexican. I'm going to take you back to Mexico with fucking lead up your fucking ass, Mexican. Got it?"

Rodriguez says the University of Arizona Police Department began investigating the threats in early May, and finally concluded on Thursday, June 30.

"The cops tracked him down. I even have his number," Rodriguez says.

However, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall contacted the Weekly to say that while the UAPD investigation has ended, the case was still under review by her office, and no charges have been filed.

As an example of other intimidation, he mentions a video posted on YouTube that used footage of the students taking over the April 26 school board meeting, with music including the lyrics: "Shoot 'em in the head. Shoot 'em in the head."

Rodriguez says the Tucson Police Department investigated. "They referred it to the prosecuting attorney, and they determined there was nothing prosecutable," Rodriguez says.

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