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Arizona teachers kick off walkout with march on Capitol, massive rally

(Twitter Photo/@acarafa)
LISTEN: Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona

PHOENIX — The streets of downtown Phoenix were flooded in red Thursday as thousands of teachers and their supporters converged to join the protests over wages and funding for education.

The rally was organized by the Red for Ed movement for the first day of the walkout that teachers voted in favor of last week.

The walkout was expected to affect hundreds of thousands of students for an unforeseen amount of time. Dozens of school districts have announced that they would close due to the lack of staffing.

Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a 20 percent pay raise by 2020 for teachers, but his offer didn’t prevent them from walking off the job and taking to the streets.

Here is how the day went:

10 a.m.

Protesters gathered at Chase Field. The plan was to march to the Arizona Capitol for a massive rally while the Legislature was in session.

10:30 a.m.

Brian Parsons, a first-grade teacher at Apache Elementary in Peoria, was on hand despite concerns about where the money would come from for raises.

“I’m a parent also,” he said. “I have a 3-year-old son with autism, and I’m very worried about taking from the developmentally disabled to give us a raise. It’s not moral.

“I think this movement is more of a moral movement. Teachers are not the type to sell out, and we don’t want to think everytime we look at our paycheck that some developmentally disabled child is going without something they need.”

11 a.m.

Marchers began their trek from Chase Field and headed toward the Capitol, a 2-mile walk on a day the temperature was expected to reach the upper 90s.

Many marchers chanted “Red for Ed” along the way, and supporters handed out water.

Shuttle buses also were available for protesters who didn’t want to or were unable to march.

Transit officials expected backups delays and detours between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. while the marchers made their way from Chase Field to the Arizona Capitol.

11:30 a.m.

Marchers started arriving at the Capitol grounds.

12:30 p.m.

The crowd was filling in at the Capitol grounds.

1:15 p.m.

Speeches were underway for the rally at the Capitol.

Phoenix Police said they estimated that 50,000 protesters participated in the event.

1:30 p.m.

Boos greeted an announcement on stage that the Legislature had adjourned until Monday.

Then the end of the rally was announced. Protesters were asked to return to the Capitol on Friday for another demonstration starting at 10 a.m.

The proceedings wrapped up with chants of “What’s the plan Ducey, what’s the plan?” and “Red for Ed!”

KTAR 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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