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News of our struggles

September 19, 2003 | Page 10

OTHER REPORTS BELOW:
Protest John Ashcroft
New York University

Stop the WTO
By Joe Cleffie

NEW YORK--Nearly 2,000 people marched on September 13 to protest the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Cancun, Mexico. The protest, organized by the coalition United for Peace and Justice, was one of more than 60 solidarity events that happened over the weekend in the United States.

The march from Union Square through Greenwich Village and SoHo ended in Washington Square where a combination of speeches and political music denounced the WTO for its policies that rob people all over the globe of things like medicines and food. "It's great to see the global justice movement finally coming back," said one activist. "We lost a lot of momentum after 9/11, but the conditions that people face and the policies of the WTO are the same if not worse. We knew it was only a matter of time."

A number of people new to the global justice movement turned out--many who'd attended their first protest in the winter to protest the war on Iraq. "It seems like it's the same people who benefit from the war on Iraq and from the WTO's trade policies," said one woman. "That's why I'm here." Marchers stopped along the way at companies like ExxonMobile, one of the WTO's biggest boosters.

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Protest John Ashcroft
By Annie Levin and David Thurston

IN EARLY September, Attorney General John Ashcroft embarked on a multi-city tour to hype the civil-liberties-bashing USA PATRIOT Act--and to push for even more Big Brother law enforcement provisions. But everywhere he went, he was greeted with loud opposition.

On September 9, more than 1,000 protesters confronted Ashcroft in Boston. Ashcroft had to nerve to tell the small audience of hand-picked police officers and politicians, that he was honored "to talk about freedom in a setting like this."

But according to the Boston Herald, the noise of the protesters rang inside the hall during his speech. Protester Riaz Ahmed told the Herald that he came to protest after the Treasury Department threatened to cancel his bank-approved mortgage--because of his "Middle Eastern-sounding" name. "I'm not especially liberal or conservative but I think this is a pretty egregious infringement on people's rights," he said.

Ashcroft was greeted by another group of furious protesters in New York City on the same day, when as many as 1,000 made their way through police barricades of downtown Manhattan at a protest organized by United for Peace and Justice and the NYCLU's Bill of Rights Defense Campaign. Chants of "Ashcroft, go home! Leave our Bill of Rights alone!" echoed from buildings in the financial district.

Many protesters where particularly angry about the Bush administration's racist use of the war on terrorism to scapegoat immigrants. "The war on terror is a convenient excuse to go forward with a racist, anti-immigrant agenda," Arthie from the immigrant rights group Families for Freedom, told Socialist Worker. She pointed out that between 1996 and 2003, more than 1 million people were deported from the U.S.

"Immigrants and families are seeing their rights eroded," Lee Gough of the Brooklyn War Resisters' League told Socialist Worker. "That shouldn't be what this country's about."

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New York University
By Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

NEW YORK--New York University (NYU) students returned to school to find that the university administration has begun implementing restrictive new policies against student clubs. Clubs are now restricted to meeting just twice a month for two hours.

More appallingly, NYU has also begun charging student groups--including the office for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, and the office for students of color--for holding events in the student center.

NYU's excuse is a "space shortage." Yet last year's prime student performance space is now being rented out to Starbucks, and entire floors of the "student center" are frequently reserved for corporate conferences.

About 25 NYU students from more than a dozen organizations gathered recently to plan how to organize against these restrictions. A petition drive demanding unlimited meetings, club offices, priority over outside corporations, and more is in the works. Students are also planning on challenging NYU's president head-on at a Town Hall meeting on September 17.

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