Tea Partiers rally for America, Live Oak students

Mark Stewart gives thumbs up to motorist passing by in Morgan

Four students from Live Oak High School received a three-hour
standing ovation from about 100 American flag-waving tea partyers
Saturday along Monterey Road near Third Street.
Four students from Live Oak High School received a three-hour standing ovation from about 100 American flag-waving tea partyers Saturday along Monterey Road near Third Street.

The ovation came in the form of a mostly peaceful rally where the overwhelming sound of car horns blaring took over downtown and one person was arrested for misdemeanor battery when he swatted a protester’s sign out of his hand.

“We are not ashamed to wear this flag on any day,” said Kelly Stone, the local tea party organizer. “And people blessed to live in this country should not be ashamed to display the American flag or to see the American flag.”

The protesters were not the only flock of people in downtown Morgan Hill Saturday. As 100 ralliers held “God bless red, white and blue” signs and the like, an estimated 10,000 people descended on the Community & Cultural Center’s parking lot for the first No Bull BBQ competition. And, the first farmer’s market this season lined the Third Street Promenade.

Jeanine Croft, a 1982 graduate of Live Oak stood near her three daughters who had American flags painted on their faces and small flags sticking from their pulled-back hair.

“This is a catalyst for some good discussion,” Croft said. “It’s an opportunity to discuss this and refocus.” Croft said students need to be taught in school to be proud Americans like she was, saluting in the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

“And the Hispanic children should be proud to be Hispanic every day not just on May 5 – but don’t ever expect us to put the American flag away,” she said.

Since April, the usual tea party crowd of about 20 have been doing the same as Saturday’s crowd – waving flags amid the background of Americana anthems and car honks. The new attendees seized an opportunity to wear their red, white and blue after a decision to ensure campus safety by Live Oak’s principal to send home four students who wore American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo ignited a national debate on the First Amendment and the new, strict immigration laws in Arizona.

In a statement, Superintendent Wes Smith wrote: “The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions (Wednesday) in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken.”

George, Jeanine Croft’s son and a Live Oak junior, stood Saturday wearing the colors he is emphatically proud of. Croft said that the portrayal of pinning Hispanic students against white students isn’t accurate, rather, Croft said, it’s a battle of mentalities.

“At school, it’s about people who respect the fact that they’re American and those who don’t,” Croft said.

He said he thought the campus was mostly peaceful and quiet when the rebellion of nearly 100 mostly Hispanic students left campus May 6 to march through Morgan Hill yelling “we want respect!”

On Saturday, three of the four boys – Daniel Galli, Matt Dariano and Dominic Maciel – were on Monterey Road shaking hands with Tea Partyers and taking pictures with people on the street. The boys said Austin Carvalho was on his way to downtown.

Veteran Fred Vierra of Salinas told Dariano’s mother to make sure they “stay on the straight and narrow because everyone is watching them now.”

Vierra shook the boys hands and thanked them for their patriotism – they thanked him, too, in return.

Kathryn Walker-Mendoza of Morgan Hill was outside enjoying the farmer’s market on East Third Street when she stopped to see what she could only describe as “sad.”

“It’s too bad that they’re stirring things up so much,” Walker-Mendoza said. Her daughter Madison is a sophomore at Live Oak. Walker-Mendoza kept Madison home from school part of Thursday and all of Friday because her daughter was defending the Hispanic students on campus and felt threatened.

“We’re all from somewhere else. We need to honor each other’s cultures,” she said.

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