A Southland high school senior was suspended for organizing a patriotic rally to counter the pro-immigration protest demonstration outside his school in Mira Loma.
Josh Denhalter, 17, said he was fed up with MEChA students waving Mexican flags on campus, and asked his principal for permission to stage a quiet counter message, and to pass out 300 fliers to announce the Friday noon hour event. The principal consulted district superintendent Elliott Duchon, who refused permission, fearing violence. The Jurupa Valley HS is two-thirds Hispanic and one third Caucasian.
Denhalter then demanded the same rights to free speech that had been afforded the MEChA students, and went ahead with passing out the fliers for his Friday rally, and was immediately suspended for three days. He was told that if he showed up within 2000 feet of school, he would be arrested.
Undaunted, Denhalter arrived outside the school for the 11 am event and joined about 100 others who held up American flags and signs supporting HR 4437. This legislation, passed by the House of Representatives, would place restrictions on people living in the United States illegally.
The approximately 30 MEChA and Brown Beret students stood on one side of Bellgrave Avenue shouting “Racists” and “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido” (People united will never be defeated). The pro-U.S. group shouted “Racist MEChA go away.” A dozen Riverside County sheriff deputies stood in the middle of the street separating the demonstrators.
“My original purpose was just to have a rally to support America, and tell them (the Congressmen) that there are people out there that believe in what they’re doing,” Josh told reporters. He wasn’t arrested, as he had been threatened.
Josh plays on the school’s varsity football and basketball teams. His father, Brett, is a sixth grade teacher in another district.