News and reports
April 30, 2004 | Pages 10 and 11
Victory for Oakland 25
OAKLAND, Calif.--On April 22, the Alameda County District Attorney dropped all charges against 24 remaining defendants who were arrested during an antiwar demonstration on the Oakland docks last year. The decision was a surprise to supporters in the courtroom, as gasps and muted cheers were audible after the first defendant and then the rest were cleared.
On April 7, 2001, several hundred people demonstrated peacefully at the Oakland docks to protest the war in Iraq. Twenty-four protesters and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 business agent Jack Heyman were arrested when the cops, unprovoked, attacked demonstrators and dockworkers. Several people were injured after went on a rampage, using rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades.
The court's change of heart, no doubt, was affected by an April report by United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights that cited Oakland police at the top of their list of human rights violators. To continue to trial would have constituted political suicide for the city and mayor, Jerry Brown.
Solidarity demonstrations outside the courthouse and supporters inside the courtroom also continued to apply pressure on city officials throughout the last year. "Labor action on the docks can stop police brutality and imperialist wars. French dockworkers did it during the war in Indochina." Heyman told Socialist Worker. "Our victorious struggle in Oakland shows that the fight for labor rights and civil liberties are inextricably linked. If we stand fast together, we can win!"
Presently, ILWU Local 10 is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department for its brutal attack.
BUFFALO, N.Y.--About 300 people protested George W. Bush as he gave a speech to promote the civil rights-shredding USA PATRIOT Act on April 20. Bush gloated about the government's racist targeting, harassment and arrest of members of the Yemeni community in nearby Lackawana.
The protest, which drew people from Buffalo and Rochester, was organized by Western New York Against Bush. Protestors defied intimidation by local, state and federal police, who promised a heavy police and military presence through the local media.
Demonstrators pointed to the Bush administration's lies about the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Several veterans also spoke out. "I don't think we should give our blood for Corporate America's oil," said Ron Bassham, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars and a member of United Auto Workers Local 686 Veterans Committee. John Curr, a veteran of the 1991 invasion of Iraq protested in his Army uniform--with the American flag patch on his shoulder turned upside down. Bush's policies "have nothing to do with supporting our troops and everything to do with an illegal war," he told the crowd.
Several protesters carried signs that pointed to Democratic John Kerry as an alternative to Bush. But Kerry's call to strengthen the military by 40,000 and his turnaround on past positions on war show that Kerry would promote no less war or deception than Bush.
The alternative to the warmongers in the Republican and Democratic parties lies in building a fighting antiwar movement.
PEORIA, Ill.--More than 300 people came here from across the state, the region and the country to Caterpillar's corporate headquarters to demand that the company stop supplying Israel with specially outfitted bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes.
Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death under a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier, also came to the April 23 Peoria rally and addressed the crowd.
"This is a beautiful day," said Cindy Corrie, "seeing all of the signs and all of the faces and all of the people, dedicated, driving miles and miles to come here and to send a message to Caterpillar and to make a difference for the Palestinian and Israeli people. My daughter Rachel was passionate about justice. Rachel stood there that day protesting illegal home demolitions that the U.S. opposes on the record yet fails to stop."
Despite receiving a letter from the Corries, Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens refused to meet with a delegation of protesters.
Activists hope to organize a boycott of Caterpillar equipment that will force the corporation to end its sale of bulldozers to Israel.