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News and reports

May 11, 2001 | Page 14

Free Jaggi Singh
Beat back Bush
New York death penalty
Chicago police brutality
Chicago city colleges

North Carolina state universities
By Christy Carter

RALEIGH, N.C.--Some 3,000 students, faculty and local residents marched on May 2 from North Carolina State University (NCSU) to the Capitol building to protest proposed cuts. The state plans to slash $125 million, or 7 percent, from the University of North Carolina (UNC) school system. At NCSU, 100 faculty positions would be lost, and an estimated $1 million in financial aid already promised to thousands of incoming freshmen would be terminated.

During the march, the NCSU student body president led protesters in chants such as, "We've got to fight; education is our right!" People from local businesses stopped work to come out and cheer on marchers.

The NCSU student government organized the march in less than a week. "This is a testament to the fact that students will shut down the streets and the city in order to be heard," said Student Senate President Michael Anthony. While NCSU students made up most of the crowd, students from East Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, and UNC at Chapel Hill, Asheville, Pembroke and Wilmington joined the 1.5-mile march.

That day, protests also took place at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the school's $25 million share of the cutback would mean the layoff of 80 faculty and 90 staff members. Students held a rally complete with laptop computers and phone banks for students to e-mail or call their hometown legislators to lobby against the cuts.

These were not the first demonstrations. A week earlier, students at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) marched across campus.

Historically Black colleges like NCCU will be especially hard hit by the cuts because of years of neglect due to segregationist policy in their funding. At the same time, UNC-Chapel Hill-the system's "flagship" school-has seen sustained investment. "We remember segregation," said a protester. "We are angry about our poor conditions, and even today, we are worried about our overcrowded classrooms."

These actions show what can be accomplished even in a very conservative state like North Carolina in a very short time. As NCSU student body president Darryl Willie said at the May 2 march, "The university doesn't get behind much, but when we combine faculty, staff and students, there's no limits to what we can do."

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Free Jaggi Singh
By Meredith Kolodner

NEW YORK--Protesters picketed the Canadian consulate May 3 to protest the outrageous arrests of hundreds of activists during demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summit in Quebec City last month. The protesters were particularly angered by the ongoing detention of Canadian activist Jaggi Singh.

Singh was abducted by cops dressed as protesters at an anti-FTAA protest and charged with possession of a weapon and inciting a riot. The dangerous weapon turned out to be a catapult used by other activists-not Singh-to toss teddy bears and other stuffed animals over the hated "wall of shame" erected to protect the politicians and corporate leaders who attended the summit. Singh was really arrested because he is a leader of the Canadian group CLAC, which helped organize the protests.

Legal defense funds are badly needed. You can transfer money to the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union. The account number is 7181, and the routing number is 226082598. Then send an email to [email protected], with "Defense Funds" in the subject line, and indicate in the body how much was deposited and when.

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Beat back Bush
By Mike Corwin

AUSTIN, Texas-George W. Bush returned to the state where he launched his political career to find angry protesters denouncing his theft of the presidency and his right-wing agenda. Bush was back in Austin April 27 for the grand opening ceremony of the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum.

The former lieutenant governor of Texas, Bullock was a Democrat who crossed party lines to endorse Bush's gubernatorial re-election bid in 1998. In an attempt to stop any dissent from reaching Bush, police and Secret Service agents completely barricaded eight city blocks surrounding the museum, including a part of the University of Texas campus.

But protesters would not be deterred. Some 250 people gathered a block away and noisily chanted during the entire proceeding.

Media covering the event reported that chants of "Hail to the thief!" "100 days of shame!" and "Stop the Texecutioner!" were audible from the stage where Bush gave his speech. Protesters carried signs pointing out everything from the electoral fraud to Bush's assault on the environment.

"He's certainly no friend of the environment, no friend to women and no friend to working people,'' demonstrator Kathleen Feyh said. Following the ceremony, 75 protesters marched to the governor's mansion, where Bush was attending a luncheon.

The peaceful protesters were attacked by mounted police officers. The protest ended when Bush's limo left the mansion and went the wrong way down a one-way street to avoid the crowd.

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New York death penalty
By Sarah Hines

NEW YORK--Nearly 100 demonstrators converged on Times Square May 5 to demand that New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Peter Vallone call hearings on a resolution supporting a death penalty moratorium. Despite wide support for the measure, both in the council and among New Yorkers, Vallone has refused to call hearings, effectively stalling a vote. "Vallone has shown us what democracy means to him: obstruction and delay," said Greg Vargo of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Sponsored by the Campaign, New York Lawyers Against the Death Penalty and Amnesty International, the rally featured speakers from the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Commission, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, the ISO and the Union of New York Free Youth.

Darby Tillis who was exonerated and freed from Illinois' death row in 1989, wore shackles and a prisoner's uniform inscribed with the words "Death Row Condemned Unit" to represent the conditions under which he lived for more than nine years as an innocent man in the death house. As former New York death row inmate Lawrence Hayes proclaimed, "America needs to wake up and join humanity."

That's why we need to tell Vallone, Gov. George Pataki and George W. Bush-no killing in our name!

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Chicago police brutality
By Joan Parkin

CHICAGO--Approximately 70 people crowded into a Police Board hearing in Chicago last month to demand justice in several police brutality and torture cases and an end to racial profiling. They were outraged that police threw an 11-year-old girl, Timia Williams, to the ground and handcuffed her for the "crime" of running away when a plainclothes cop called her over to his car.

Vera Love, mother of police murder victim Robert Russ, asked Police Superintendent Terry Hillard why his office won't fire or investigate the officers who killed her son. According to the only eyewitness, Robert, a 22-year-old football player just two weeks from graduating from Northwestern University, was unarmed and had his hands in the air when Officer Van Watts fired a fatal shot to his chest in June 1999.

The board's-and Hillard's-response was silence.

The Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago is demanding that the city begin keeping racial statistics on people apprehended by the police. Many, among them Lydia Taylor of the Justice Coalition, warned Hillard that "Chicago could become another Cincinnati" if something isn't done.

Hillard was pressured into ordering a ban on racial profiling-even though he refuses to keep statistics. Activists are stepping up the campaign with a march for Timia Williams and a rally at police headquarters on the anniversary of Robert Russ' murder June 9.

Another rally June 22 will publicize a court hearing where attorneys will argue for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate the cases of the Death Row 10-African American prisoners who were tortured by Chicago police.

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Chicago city colleges
By Kirstin Roberts

CHICAGO--Students, instructors, clerks, librarians and councilors of Chicago's City Colleges protested a proposed privatization plan at the May meeting of their Board of Trustees. The board, chaired by wealthy financier James Tyree, has launched an ambitious privatization and outsourcing plan that threatens even academic departments with corporate takeover.

American Express Financial Services has been granted a contract to run payroll and financial aid. About 25 percent of the workforce lost their jobs as a result.

The board wants libraries and the computer science and counseling departments put into corporate hands as well. There is already an extreme shortage of counselors in the City College system, and students fear that privatization will make it worse.

They also fear bigger classes, fewer full-time instructors and higher tuition.

Chanting "2-4-6-8, American Express can't educate!" and holding signs reading "Our school is not for sale," about 100 protesters picketed the board meeting at Harold Washington College. Students have formed an anti-privatization committee in solidarity with trade unionists.

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