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Student marchers demand "books not bombs"

By Elizabeth Schulte | April 11, 2003 | Page 11

ON APRIL 5, students in several cities took part in protests against the war in Iraq, demanding "Books Not Bombs!" The largest of the protests, called by the national Campus Antiwar Network, took place in Oakland, Calif., where 15,000 people turned out.

About 1,000 students marched to join a labor and community contingent that included members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union drill team and the California Nurses Association. "The people who say 'support our troops, support the war' are wrong," said Paul Cox, a member of Veterans for Peace. "They are the ones getting the soldiers killed and forcing them to kill."

The protest highlighted the fact that while Congress authorized $75 billion for George W. Bush's war, more than 25,000 California public school teachers got pink slips last week. A thousand of them are from Oakland--more than one-third of the entire teaching force!

"There are millions of us in America standing up to George Bush," singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte told the thousands assembled. "[He should eliminate] the terrorism of poverty, ignorance and oppression."

"All the money they're spending on this war should be going to build schools and improve education, not kill Iraqi students," said Katrina Yeaw from San Francisco State Students Against War.

In Chicago, some 5,000 people turned out on April 5 in the first major demonstration here since the week the war began. Students from dozens of colleges and high schools around the Midwest came together to protest the war on Iraq.

"Bush talks about liberating Iraq," antiwar activist Father Michael Pfleger told the crowd. "Why doesn't he look out his own window? How about liberating the U.S.--from racism? How about liberating us from poverty?"

Others speakers included representatives of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Voices in the Wilderness, the UIC Muslim Students Association, Not in My Name and the ISO.

Activists from across the city also brought banners and signs to identify their groups. People carried signs like "Teachers Against the War," "South Siders for Peace," "How Many Lives Per Gallon?" "We Are Not a 'Focus Group'" and one with a picture of Bush with the words "Had Enough."

Throughout the peaceful protest, they were surrounded by an overwhelming display of hundreds of Chicago police in riot gear.

In Austin, Texas, 1,500 people gathered at the University of Texas and marched to the Federal Building downtown on April 5.

In New York City, a largely Black and immigrant march of 700 people took to the streets of Harlem to show their opposition to the racist war in Iraq. Chanting "No Justice, No Peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!" and "Money for Housing, Not for War!" protesters marched for 50 blocks to the Harlem State Office Building for a final rally of 1,200 people.

Organizations represented included Black Solidarity Against the War Coalition, AFSCME District Council 1707, New York City Labor Against War, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Black Telephone Workers for Justice, Day Care Workers Local 205, New Black Panther Party, Postal Workers Against the War, Black Radical Congress and the ISO.

"They take money from your schools and jobs, so don't let them tell you who your enemy is abroad," Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint told the crowd. "The enemy is not abroad. It's at home!"

Jon Bougie, Todd Chretien, Yusef Khalil and Sid Patel contributed to this report.

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