UA Professor Asks for Support from Elected Officials

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The last time we interviewed Roberto Rodriguez in July 2011, it was about a series of violent death threats he received on his work place voice mail at the UA because of his ardent support for the Tucson Unified School District's dismantled Mexican American Studies program, and how anti-Mexican American Studies rhetoric was possibly behind those threats.

Today, Rodriguez is holding a press conference calling on local elected officials to condemn these death threats related to Mexican American Studies and activists who support the program.

His press release:

On Thursday, August 2nd, Dr. Roberto Rodriguez and local elected officials will hold a press conference regarding unprosecuted death threats made in response to community activism surrounding the Mexican American Studies program in TUSD. The press conference will be held at TUSD headquarters, 1010 E. 10th street at 10 a.m.

The press conference is being called in light of the impending trial of an individual that made several threats against Dr. Rodriguez in 2011. His trial will begin next week, on August 7th.

Despite the upcoming prosecution of the person involved in these threats, death threats made against children and students active in the program have been written off by local authorities as a “joke,” and investigations against individuals admittedly involved in the matter have been dismissed.

Attorney General Tom Horne, the highest law enforcement officer in our state, expressed recently that “obviously we would all condemn any such threats.” Despite this comment, he proceeded to mock Dr. Rodriguez’s concerns regarding the issue in a recent special to the Arizona Republic. As the state's top lawman, he too is invited to unequivocally denounce and fully support the prosecution of those issuing such threats.

“Death threats have no place in public discourse,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “It is critical that the public see that on the matter of death threats, they cannot be tolerated.” In context of the sort of activism related to the MAS program in TUSD, these threats are considered by definition a hate crime. Allowing these threats to go uninvestigated sends the wrong message to our community that these hateful actions are acceptable practice.

Dr. Rodriguez is requesting the presence of any and all elected officials and community leaders, regardless of affiliation, to support protected speech and the right to a safe community. He encourages attendance at the press conference on Thursday, August 2nd at 10am at 1010 E. 10th Street, TUSD Headquarters.

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