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Reports from the struggle

May 25, 2001 | Page 14

California affirmative action
Little Village
Protest Madeleine Albright
Free Palestine
Portland cops
Rochester hospital closing

Beat back Bush!


South Bend, Ind.--As George Bush gave the commencement address, several hundred activists gathered at the University of Notre Dame to protest against him.

Many students and faculty at this Catholic campus were particularly outraged with the university's decision to award Bush an honorary law degree since his stand on the death penalty, the military and workers' rights is contrary to Catholic teaching.

The protest was called by the Progressive Students Association and sponsored by the South Bend AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers of America, South Bend Greens and other groups.

In particular, several busloads of steelworkers from around Indiana came to voice their opposition to Bush's trade policies, especially his support for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Workers even came from Mansfield, Ohio, where AK Steel has locked out hundreds of workers for almost two years, to tell their story and support the struggles of other unionists in the area who are fighting layoffs and plant closings.

Speaker after speaker railed against Bush's many assaults on workers and the environment and his enthusiasm for the barbaric and racist death penalty. Environmentalists attacked Bush's plans to expand the use of nuclear power and his decision to explore the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This kind of protest is exactly what's needed everywhere Bush shows up.

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California affirmative action


RIVERSIDE, Calif.--The University of California (UC)-Riverside Affirmative Action Coalition held a march and rally of 100 students on May 9 to demand the repeal of measures SP-1 and SP-2.

SP-1 and SP-2 are anti-affirmative action measures regarding admissions and hiring passed by the Regents six years ago and implemented four years ago, with devastating consequences.

"We refuse to be the token campus of the UC system, the only campus where students of color are found in significant numbers," said Cesar Oyervides-Cisneros, one of the event's organizers. "The University does not reflect the population of the state, and even here, the instructional staff does not reflect our communities."

Another student added, "We're here to make the university work for us, not to work for the university"--a reminder that the university's exploits large numbers of workers of color in low-wage positions.

Students chanted, "Education is a right--not just for the rich and white!" and "Educate, don't segregate!" as they marched through campus. The coalition plans to participate in the statewide action to demand the repeal of SP-1 and SP-2 on May 16 at the Regents meeting in San Francisco.

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Little Village


CHICAGO--Fed up with waiting, 14 parents from the Little Village neighborhood began a hunger strike on Mother's Day to protest the Chicago Public Schools' delay in building a high school in this largely Latino neighborhood.

Parents were promised a new high school in Little Village in 1998, when the Board of Education planned construction of three Chicago high schools. The two other prep schools--Walter Payton High and North Side Prep--were built and opened. Yet Little Village parents are still waiting for the city to find funding for their school.

Working mostly through a network of 32 block clubs, community members decided they had to fight for education. "Some of our students have to travel two hours on a bus to go to school," complained several parents.

Parents chose a location at 31st and Kostner because it was accessible and neutral to gangs. Now they're camping out every night and holding protests and press conferences at the site until Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas meet their demands.

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Protest Madeleine Albright


PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Campus activists are preparing to protest former Secretary of State and war criminal Madeleine Albright's appearance at Brown University's commencement ceremonies on May 28.

Activists were horrified to hear that she would also be receiving an honorary degree. The announcement came just weeks after the administration sided with the campus newspaper's decision to print a racist ad by right-wing kook David Horowitz.

A small group of students met with an administrator about the university's decision to bring someone responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children to campus. Students immediately started organizing a protest when the decision was made public.

They are reaching out to Providence community anti-sanctions activists to plan a teach-in the day before Albright's address and a protest on the day.

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Free Palestine


LOS ANGELES--A multiracial crowd of 200 marched and protested at the Federal Building to demand justice for Palestinians and an end to U.S. support for Israel.

The demonstration had a mood of international solidarity as speeches were given in Arabic, English and Spanish.

Roberto Guillen of the Revolutionary Tendency of El Salvador summed it up well when he said, "We support the Palestinian struggle, and we will be with them to the end!"

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SEATTLE--Antiglobalization activists mobilized May 6-12 to protest the Asian Pacific Cities Summit. The summit is a meeting of officials from 70 Pacific Rim cities, a dozen multinationals, representatives from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

About 100 people protested the opening ceremonies on May 6 at the Westlake Center. On May 8, protesters marched to the Westin Hotel to protest a plenary session on privatization, with representatives of the IMF and World Bank. Local organizers spoke to the crowd of about 100 people.

When protesters attempted to march around the hotel, police blocked the way and then arrested two, assaulting one of them. The march continued on to the commercial core of downtown where protesters chanted and drummed in front of the Gap and Starbucks.

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Portland cops


PORTLAND, Ore.--Local Latino organizations and other activists are demanding justice for José Mejia Poot, a Mexican farmworker murdered by police on April 1. Activists were outraged when a grand jury cleared the cop of any wrongdoing at the end of April.

Witnesses say police beat Mejia after he was arrested for being just 20 cents short on a bus fare. They took Mejia, who had epilepsy and spoke no English, to a psychiatric hospital.

The police returned two times, because the understaffed hospital personnel said they couldn't deal with him. On the cops' first visit, they locked Mejia in a room from which he escaped. Police claimed that when they returned, he was coming at them with a metal bar pulled from a door.

The cops pepper-sprayed and fired bean-bag rounds at Mejia, then shot him with two rounds of bullets, which killed him.

Activists have organized speak-outs and a protest to draw attention to racial profiling and police brutality.

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Rochester hospital closing


ROCHESTER, N.Y.--About 75 people gathered on May 7 to protest the closing of Genesee Hospital. The 114-year-old hospital is the major health care provider for working-class and poor people in Rochester.

In March, ViaHealth--the health care corporation that owns Genesee--announced that it was closing down the hospital and laying off 2,000 workers in less than 90 days. Genesee is deeply in debt, and ViaHealth says that it can no longer compete with the other health care providers in the city.

Almost immediately, ViaHealth began closing down parts of Genesee, while Democratic Mayor Bill Johnson and the New York Department of Health quickly gave their approval to the closing.

As Socialist Worker went to press, Genesee was slated to close any day. As a result, thousands will find it more difficult to get the health care they need.

But activists aren't going to let the memory of this outrage slip away. Over the coming weeks, they are planning teach-ins, panel discussions and the founding of a civilian review board to watch over the health care industry.

The closing of Genesee Hospital should be an important reminder to activists across the country--health care is a business. The corporations' buddies in the nation's legislatures aren't going to endanger health care profits unless they're forced to.

We have to get out on the streets to stop corporations like ViaHealth from putting profits before people.

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