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Stateside: My fellow Americans (Part 1)

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

My fellow Americans (Part 1)

As a kind of rite of passage (or trial by sore bum, depending how you look at it) I celebrated my becoming a U.S. Citizen by taking a three-day Greyhound Bus trip from DC back to California. This series highlights some of the people I met.

::Interview with Daniel Cervantes, March 25, 2007::
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When I boarded the coach at Salt Lake City, Utah, for the second-to-last leg of my trip back to Cali, the young man sitting behind me was telling another guy across the aisle about how he had to go back home because the police wanted to speak to him about a YouTube video he’d made.

Because it sounded like a situation in which someone’s First Amendment rights to free speech were being violated, I interviewed Daniel when we arrived the next day at Sacramento. (On the audio he spells out his name at my earlier request.)

Just so that you understand and acknowledge that I transcribe things--I'm not really a reporter, so I'm just going to transcribe what you say and I'm gonna put it on a website that's based in New Zealand that anybody...

Daniel Cervantes:
You're a blogger.

Yeah. So anybody can read it. Okay, so just tell me about what happened.

Daniel Cervantes:
What happened is... My name's Daniel Cervantes, and about two years ago when I was in high school--I was going to Continuation--I made a little stick figure, a video clip of a stick figure lighting and throwing a Molotov cocktail at a sign that said CHS, which was our high school name. It was a acronym for our high school name.

Can you just explain to me what a Continuation High School is? Because in New Zealand we don't have those.

Daniel Cervantes:
Okay. It's like a court school. What happens, it's for kids who get in trouble. Fights at school. Like me, the reason why I was there was I didn't do any of my school work. I got very bored with school. I ended up dropping out and getting my GED* and just going to work because I hated school.

I had a brother like that. Go on.

Daniel Cervantes:
So, what happened is, I was in Utah doing sales, because I'm a salesperson, and my mom gives me a call and says, "A police officer just showed up at the house and they're investigating the case saying that it was a threat to the school." For a suicide bomber, or something. At the school.

Can you just verify for me... the stick figure thing that you made and put on YouTube was two years ago, but when was it that your Mom got a call?

Daniel Cervantes:
Ah, she just called me two days ago. So I'm coming back to California because if it looks like I'm running from the cops, I'll be in more trouble than if I go and turn myself in and find out what's going on.

That's right. Do YouTube... Did they pull the video or has it been up there all this time? I know that people can say they think it's inappropriate.

Daniel Cervantes:
No, it's been up there for about a year-and-a-half, because I have it on MySpace and I haven't noticed it changing. So I guess it's just recently happened, because I haven't had Web access for a couple of days.

Do you live here in Sacramento? Whereabouts, if the police... if I want to follow up with the court case, where should I look?

Daniel Cervantes:
I'm from Fresno. Fresno, California. That's where I'm heading right now. I don't know if it's the California police--like all of California--or just Fresno.

So it was a continuation high school in Fresno?

Daniel Cervantes:
Well, it's right off Fresno, but I say Fresno because that's what everyone knows. It's right off about 15 minutes. It's in Carruthers, it's about 15 minutes from Fresno.

Okay. Thank you very much.

Daniel Cervantes:
All right.


*GED is the General Educational Development Test, which can be taken by people 18 years and older to give them the equivalent of a High School Diploma.



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