OAKLAND, Calif. – Parents, teachers, students and civil libertarians are still in an uproar over an incident on April 23 when U.S. Secret Service agents swooped down on Oakland High School and interrogated two male 16-year-olds about their comments critical of the Iraq War and an alleged threat they made against President George W. Bush.

The pair’s English teacher, Sandy Whitney, had called the Secret Service after she heard them make comments that she interpreted as a threat to the president.

According to reports published in the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune, the two students, both U.S. citizens of Southeast Asian ancestry, were pulled out of class, interrogated for about an hour each by the agents, and threatened with deportation and the deportation of their families if they did not cooperate. Their parents were not notified about the interrogation, and the students were denied access to lawyers.

The students’ current lawyer, Gen Fujioka, has categorically denied that the pair made any threats about the president, and no charges were ever filed against the students.

Civil rights lawyers, other teachers, and parents have denounced the action, calling it “a new McCarthyism,” “way out of line,” and “ridiculous.”

The East Bay Educators for Justice Network, the Bay Area Police Watch, the National Lawyers Guild and the Asian Law Caucus are preparing legal action to address what they have described as a violation of the students’ civil rights. Expressions of concern can be phoned into the office of Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, (510) 879-8200.

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