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News and Reports

July 6, 2001 | Page 14

Confront the Nazis in New Jersey
Chicago immigrant rights demonstration
Little Village protests in Chicago
Harlem housing demonstration

BioJustice 2001


SAN DIEGO--"Disease and starvation will not be solved by corporations! It's bullshit, get off it, the enemy is profit!" So went a popular chant at the BioJustice 2001 protests in San Diego against an annual convention of biotech companies.

The march and protest on June 24 was the high point of a five-day series of teach-ins and protests to point out the dangers of the genetic engineering of foods and other organisms. Although fewer people attended than expected--1,000 as opposed to pre-event estimates as high as 10,000--the protests were successful in creating public debate on several fronts.

Police whipped up a massive scare campaign prior to the event. Downtown businesses were told to board their windows and residents to stay clear of "violent" protesters. Cops received $2 million for overtime and new equipment to lock down the city.

Despite this, many protesters came out.

At teach-ins before the protests began, dozens of meetings were held by scientists, writers, farmers and others. Vandana Shiva, an advocate for poor farmers in India, spoke out, as did a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto when his neighbor's genetically patented crops cross-pollinated with his.

Those who have been fighting biotech on their own for years were re-energized by the energy of the new generation of activists associated with the antiglobalization movement who made up the bulk of this protest.

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Confront the Nazis in New Jersey


MORRISTOWN, N.J.--Hate-monger Richard Barrett and his band of neo-Nazi thugs plan to hold their second "Independence from Crime Day" parade here July 4.

Barrett is the leader of the white supremacist Nationalist Movement. He recently held "press conferences" in Philadelphia and Cincinnati to voice support for police after the shooting of an unarmed Black man, Timothy Thomas, in Cincinnati.

At this year's Morristown "parade," Barrett plans to honor Officer Steven Roach--the cop who shot Thomas--and York, Pa., Mayor Charlie Robertson, who is currently under indictment for the brutal murder of an unarmed Black woman in 1969.

Last year, the Nationalist Movement's rally focused on racial profiling by New Jersey cops. "I am pro-profiling because I am against crime," said bigot Steve Ucci, a Nationalist Movement supporter who until recently worked as a guard at the Morris County Courthouse. Ucci is this year's Grand Marshal of the Nazi parade.

Fortunately, antiracist activists from across the state and beyond are fighting back. Last year, more than 350 people turned out to show Barrett and his supporters that they can't get away with spouting racist garbage. This year, activists are again mobilizing.

Some local politicians have advocated staying away from the Nazi march. But as Lawrence Hamm, of the People's Organization for Progress, said, "We have to come out. We have to speak out against it, because if we don't, it goes unchecked and it spreads, and the groups become more powerful."

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Chicago immigrant rights demonstration


CHICAGO--About 500 immigrants' rights activists and unionists took to the streets of the largely Mexican neighborhood of Little Village to demand amnesty for immigrants.

Unions and politicians spoke about the need to push for passage of legislation called H.R. 500, which would allow permanent legal residency to any immigrant who has been in the country since February 6, 1996. Those who arrived in the U.S. by February 6, 2001, would be allowed to apply for legal residency after five years.

Union leaders also called for more organizing among undocumented workers.

Protesters chanted, "What do we want? Amnesty!" and "Boricua y mexicano, luchando mano en mano" (Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, fighting together). The crowd marched to the local Social Security Administration building and threw bags of balloons marked "$1 billion" at the door to remind the government of how much immigrant workers contribute to the system.

Activists plan to head to Washington, D.C., in September to pressure Congress to pass the new amnesty bill.

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Little Village protests in Chicago


CHICAGO--Thirty picketers chanted, "Daley, Vallas, keep your promise!" as mothers and students demanded that the Board of Education begin construction on a high school in Little Village.

Prior to the action, a group of mothers went on hunger strike for three weeks after the Chicago Public Schools reneged on its commitment to build a high school in this Mexican-American neighborhood.

Even though state funds are available, the Chicago Board of Education has not yet allotted the money towards the much-needed high school.

Community members organized a bus to picket the last board meeting for President Gery Chico and schools' Chief Executive Paul Vallas, who are stepping down from office. Organizers have planned other events, including a meeting with Mayor Richard Daley, to keep up the pressure.

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Harlem housing protest


NEW YORK--About 120 people held a spirited protest June 13 outside the Harlem Schomberg Center against new rent increases for public housing.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Rent Guidelines Board voted on suggested rent increases of 3 percent for one-year leases and 5 percent for two-year lease renewals. But outside, people voiced their desire for affordable housing--with many protesters staying at the demonstration after they walked by.

The demonstration followed a town hall meeting in Harlem a few weeks earlier on gentrification and globalization. "Housing is a small example of the barrage of attacks that are committed against working class people," said Tom DeMott, an activist in Harlem.

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