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Reports from the struggle

November 22, 2002 | Pages 10 and 11

Protest the School of the Americas

By Nija Valal

FORT BENNING, Ga.--Some 7,000 people turned out last weekend for the annual protests against the U.S. Army's School for Assassins. People came from as far away as Missouri and Minnesota to show their anger with the Pentagon's training center for Latin American dictators and death squads.

The crowd that marched on the gates of Fort Benning was diverse, ranging from students who became active in opposition to George W. Bush's war drive against Iraq, to long-time opponents of the School of the Americas (SOA).

The number of people ready to protest the SOA has climbed into the thousands as SOA Watch and other activists have cast a spotlight on the misery and suffering caused by the school's "alumni." "The School needs to be shut down," said one student who traveled to Georgia from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. "Our job is to make sure to stop the evil that our government does. U.S. foreign policy is a dehumanizing foreign policy, which isn't concerned about innocent life and the poor, but more concerned with big business."

More than 90 people walked onto the base during the protest and were arrested. Over the past several years, those who committed this act of civil disobedience have been treated much more harshly. Currently, 26 people are serving three- or six-month prison sentences for civil disobedience at last year's protest. But protesters refuse to be intimidated.

Many drew the connection between the U.S. government's "war on terrorism" and its support for a center that turns out U.S.-allied terrorists. And the war on Iraq was on everyone's mind. "Bush should be arrested as a military deserter," Jim Steinhagen, a Korean War veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, told Socialist Worker. "He and his administration--almost none of whom have been in the military--are willing to send us to fight their war."

Fight for immigrants' rights

By David Thurston

NEW YORK--More than 200 people rallied and marched against the Bush administration's detentions, harassment and persecution of immigrant communities as part of the domestic "war on terror."

"We're here to protest the increased collaboration between the INS and the police," José from the Coney Island Avenue Project told Socialist Worker at the November 16 protest. Protesters marched from police headquarters to a federal office building, chanting "INS, FBI, No more kidnaps, No more lies!"

"Communities have witnessed countless neighbors, friends and loved ones be 'disappeared' by local enforcement authorities," said Monami Maulik of Desis Rising Up and Moving.

Bobby Khan from the Coney Island Avenue Project explained how the witch-hunt of Muslims and South Asians has ruined lives. "Hardworking people who came to America--like generations of immigrants before them--are being denied the basic right to due process, thrown into jails with no recourse to courts, and then, after it's discovered that they have nothing to do with violence or terror, are deported anyway."

We have to keep up the pressure to win back the civil rights that the Bush gang has ripped away. No justice, no peace!

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