Punishment handed down for protest by UA professor and HS students

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- They knew this could happen. Monday, a group of four students and one U of A professor learned their punishment for civil disobedience.

In May of last year the group was arrested while protesting the signing of HB 2281 at the federal building after hours.

Pima County justice court was packed with supporters of the five people who were arrested back in May.

"The most important thing was all of us feel that we are guilty of nothing, what we did is we participated in civil disobedience," said defendant Robert Rodriguez.

Professor Roberto Rodriguez and four high school students were arrested after they were asked to leave the federal building.

The group wanted to confront Attorney General Tom Horne, who was the Superintendent of Schools back then, about his support of a bill Governor Jan Brewer signed earlier that day.

"Jan Brewer signed the law which we consider illegal and immoral, unconstitutional and it violates every human rights law in the world," said Rodriguez.

That law was HB 2281. The bill banned ethnic studies classes in TUSD and led to the protest and the arrest.

The state asked for six months unsupervised probation and a $50 fine for the defendants.

Judge Maria Felix had the final ruling.

"I don't think a 6 month unsupervised probation is called for in this case, in these cases" said Judge Maria Felix.

Instead the five defendants will have to complete ten hours of community service by April.

"We were all willing to face the consequences and we are and I think, we think, we shouldn't have any kind of sentence at all," said Rodriguez.

The consequence is community service and it sounds like the group already knows how they want to serve it.

"It looks like we're all leaning towards volunteering Derechos Humanos, who fight for the human rights of all people all migrants et cetera," said Rodriguez.

TUSD has less than 60 days to prove that the ethnic studies classes are not in violation of HB 2281 or they will face a $15 million cut to the budget.