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No to war and occupation

November 19, 2004 | Page 15

Campus Antiwar Network
By Hollis Architzel

NEW YORK--More than 100 activists representing 30 campuses gathered for the Campus Antiwar Network's (CAN) third annual national conference at Pace University on November 13-14.

The conference took place just as the antiwar movement is beginning to rebuild after the elections. Throughout the weekend, CAN members debated how best to move forward.

Discussions about the latest barbaric assault on Falluja and Bush and Kerry's use of the "war on terror" to justify the occupation of Iraq ran throughout the conference. In response, CAN passed a new point of unity opposing the "war on terror." CAN also voted to amend an existing point of unity to give stronger support to the Palestinian people.

Mike Hoffman--the conference's keynote speaker and an Iraq war veteran who helped found Iraq Veterans Against War--and others argued for increased collaboration between students, veterans and military family antiwar groups. Resolutions were passed in support of U.S. soldiers disobeying orders and full health care and tuition benefits for all vets.

CAN passed resolutions calling for campaigns to demilitarize schools, including kicking the ROTC and military recruiters off campus, fighting to end military research at universities and divesting school funds from companies that benefit from the war.

The conference was smaller than in past years, but everyone was excited to rebuild the antiwar movement and fight for an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Recruiters off campus
By Justino Rodriguez

ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS at City College New York sent an "unwelcome" message to military recruiters on November 4: Get off our campus!

It all began when a few students set up a table next to two military recruiters who consistently come to Club Day in their search for fresh blood for Washington's wars. They circulated a petition to permanently bar the recruiters from campus. They also placed signs around the rotunda detailing the statistics about the poverty draft in the U.S.

The group of three students soon grew to 10. Within half an hour, they had gathered more than 100 signatures, and dozens of students had joined in to confront the recruiters by chanting anti-military recruitment slogans. They were joined by a table of medical students for universal health care, who lent their microphone to help speak out against the recruiters.

With a crowd gathering, the military recruiters--visibly intimidated--had no choice but to pack up and leave after just 30 minutes.

A chant of "The students united will never be defeated!" rose up, and students vowed to oppose the recruiters every time they tried to step foot on campus. Afterwards, students met to discuss forming a coalition to permanently bar the recruiters from campus.

Emergency responses

AS THE U.S. military bore down on Falluja, activists organized emergency responses around the country.

-- Opponents of Bush's war took the streets twice in one week in New York City. About 150 people came to a November 9 rally organized by ANSWER, and two days later, more than 200 gathered outside the offices of Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer to protest their support for the occupation. The second protest was organized by United for Peace and Justice.

"They're committing war crimes on so many levels," protester Albert Jaccoma, a veteran, said of the U.S. assault on Falluja. "This is indiscriminate slaughter, despite the talk of 'precision bombs.'"

-- In San Francisco, about 500 protesters marched November 9. When marchers passed a locked-out hotel workers' picket, they showed their solidarity by chanting "What do we want? Contracts! When do want them? Now!" Speakers included representatives of the Justice in Palestine Coalition, ANSWER, Global Exchange and the Ralph Nader campaign.

-- In Seattle, 500 people marched downtown November 13, chanting "Hey, Bush, what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?"

In Los Angeles, 300 people marched on November 9. To intimidate the crowd, the Marines drove two tanks down Wilshire Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in LA.

-- In Washington, D.C., just a few days after the election, about 100 activists took the streets to protest the war and the next four years of the Bush agenda.

-- On Veterans Day, University of Wisconsin-Madison Stop the War organized a demonstration of about 75 people that marched downtown and then picketed the Navy ROTC building on campus.

Antiwar veterans and families

IN SEVERAL cities, activists have organized meetings featuring antiwar veterans and their families.

At the University of Illinois-Chicago, 40 students gathered to hear Rob Sarra, a former infantry sergeant who served in Iraq during Operation Shock and Awe who's now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and Prof. Raoul Contreras, a Vietnam vet who's now a professor and the chair of minority studies at Indiana University Northwest.

"When I came back, I knew that the war and what I had just done had nothing to do with what had motivated me to volunteer," said Contreras. "But still it wasn't an automatic thing--to join the antiwar movement. The veterans who are going to be coming back from Iraq are going to have go through that same process, and under the pressure of all the propaganda that comes down about how we can't pull out now because otherwise all the people that we've lost will have been in vain."

At New York's Hunter College, 40 people gathered to hear IVAW founder Mike Hoffman and former Marine recruiter Chris Dugan.

Jonah Birch, Vicky Jambor, Mali Jimenez, Sean Petty and Kevin Prosen contributed to this report.

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