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Reports from the struggle

May 30, 2003 | Pages 10 and 11

Defend civil liberties
New York City antiwar protest
Beats for Peace

Protest police killing

By Paul Dean

PORTLAND, Ore.--A multiracial throng of 1,500 marched through northeast Portland to protest the police murder of Kendra James. Last Monday, a grand jury cleared police officer Scott McCollister of any wrongdoing.

Kendra--a 21-year-old African American mother of two--was shot on May 5 while police tried to drag her out of a car stopped for a minor traffic violation. The cop said that he feared for his life, though Kendra was unarmed. After she was shot, the cops handcuffed her and left her lying in the street without medical attention because they said she was faking it.

"The cop says he feared for his life," Pastor Roy Tate told the crowd. "Well, we fear for ours!" The verdict left minority communities with the feeling that there will never be justice. The crowd swelled to such a large size because of grassroots organizing in the community--and they were joined by many people politicized by the antiwar movement.

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Defend civil liberties

By Katie Ray

MADISON, Wis.--University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison students saw a recent victory against discrimination after hundreds of students mobilized against a $125 fee to be added to the tuition of international students.

This policy, which was to be implemented in the 2003-2004 school year, was supposed to cover the costs of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In other words, international students were to pay for their own surveillance! UW students and supporters showed administrators that we would not stand for their unfair fee, forcing them to concede to "seek other funding sources" for the coming year.

International and domestic students alike quickly spread the word on campus and in the community, and the response was overwhelming. "Most people didn't really know anything about the USA PATRIOT Act and the implications of Homeland Security-type legislation, and this campaign was their first glimpse at these policies at work in their community," said Kate McCoy, a leading activist in the anti-SEVIS campaign. "Most people were shocked and appalled."

Sympathetic editorials appeared in local papers, 30 UW departments came out against the fee implementation, and the student government and the Madison City Council passed resolutions against it. Most important was the work of these students themselves, who got almost 1,500 people to sign petitions, held a well-attended rally and engaged in debates with administrators--all of which ultimately forced them to shelve their plans.

Everyone has a stake in fighting against these witch-hunts that undermine diversity and democracy on campuses and in communities.

While International UW students will no longer be required to pay for their surveillance under SEVIS, the system remains in place. We need to spread this fight to other campuses and communities that will face similar battles in the year to come and show those in charge that we won't stand for their divisive tactics.

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New York City antiwar protest

By Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

NEW YORK--"Stop the U.S. war machine, from Iraq to Flushing, Queens," chanted 150 demonstrators at a May 19 rally against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the attacks on communities of color at home. Flushing is a predominantly Asian neighborhood that, like other areas with many immigrants, has faced INS special registration and racial profiling since the September 11 attacks.

Standing outside the Times Square military recruitment station, speakers criticized military recruitment in high schools. "If you are poor, of color, and in the city, you are 10 times more likely to get a recruitment call from the military than from colleges," said Sabrine, a representative from the antiwar, antiracist group Third World Within. "Today we want to draft people into a new army of peace, justice and resistance," said Sabrine, speaking alternately in English and Spanish to the multiracial and multilingual crowd.

The rally was one of several events on May 19 in cities around the country to oppose the occupation of Iraq and the repression at home. The day was called by the group Racial Justice 911 to coincide with the birthday of Malcolm X, and many speakers drew parallels between past liberation movements and those today.

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Beats for Peace

By Jesse Hagopian

WASHINGTON--The Beats for Peace tour came to a close this week after a week-long East Coast tour. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, the tour featured some of the biggest names in hip-hop sounding off against war.

On May 11, Medusa, Pharoahe Monch, Cee-Lo, Schoolz of Thought, Maceo of De la Soul and Supernatural all rocked the stage with the message of stop the war--the war on our schools, the war on democracy and the war on the world. The event provided a forum for many different activists and organizations working against the war at home and abroad, locally and nationally.

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