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News and reports

January 14, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
No to war and occupation
Stop the militarization of our schools
Justice for Palestine

Stop the execution of Donald Beardslee
By Kim Rabuck and Michelle Simon

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--The state of California plans to execute 61-year-old Donald Beardslee, who has been a model prisoner at San Quentin State Prison for 21 years, on January 19.

Beardslee suffers from serious brain damage as a result of a birth defect, which has impaired his judgment all of his life.

He was convicted in the killing, along with three other men, of two women in a drug deal gone wrong. Beardslee was the only one to receive the death sentence, even though he was no more culpable in the murders than his four co-defendants. Additionally, the prosecutor argued for the death penalty because he said Beardslee was a danger to other inmates and prison guards.

As in Illinois, where a task force examined the death penalty and found it so faulty that the governor of that state instituted a moratorium on the carrying out of executions and commuted more than 100 death sentences, a new investigatory commission has been formed to examine California's death penalty. Although the commission has yet to hold its first meeting, the state is rushing to execute Beardslee.

Last February, California came within three hours of executing Kevin Cooper, an innocent man who has languished on death row for more than 20 years. The anti-death penalty movement organized across the state and around the world to stop that execution.

Activists in California are demanding that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger grant clemency to Donald Beardslee and that no executions be carried out until the commission completes its investigation.

Send a message to Gov. Schwarzenegger to demand clemency. Call 916-445-2841, fax 916-445-4633, or send an e-mail at www.govmail.ca.gov on the Web. For information on protests, visit www.2flawed2fix.org, call 510-333-7966, or e-mail [email protected]

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No to war and occupation
By Jorge Torres and Darrin Hoop

SEATTLE--Antiwar activists in the newly formed Students Against War (SAW) at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) are organizing a campus walkout for January 20.

Since mid-November, SAW has been holding weekly meetings and setting up tables to protest military recruiters on campus.

Recently, the National Guard called campus security to tell us to stop harassing them. When security tried to shut us down, a crowd of 15 people gathered to defend our right to protest.

Antiwar activists have taken that momentum to work on organizing a teach-in on January 19 and a walkout the next day to protest Bush's inauguration. Teach-in speakers will include teachers, members of SAW, the ISO and Military Families Speak Out and Nadine Hamoui, who, along with her parents, were locked up in the Immigration and Naturalization Service detention Center for nine months in 2002 as victims of the racist attacks on Arabs.

After many debates about whether we should walk out, a vote was taken and the walkout passed. Since then, we've met with students from four other Seattle campuses to coordinate walkouts on January 20.

SCCC students will walk out at 12:30 p.m. and march through campus before converging with the other campuses. From there, we will march to Westlake Mall to meet up with a Not In Our Name rally.

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Stop the militarization of our schools
By Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union, Senn H.S.

CHICAGO--Despite the spirited campaign to stop the Navy's takeover of Senn High School, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously December 15 to install a naval academy here.

While those of us involved in the struggle to save Senn were disappointed, we weren't entirely surprised. It's been clear that the Board of Education and city officials were treating this as a "done deal" for months now.

But while we lost this battle, we nevertheless can point to some worthwhile accomplishments.

In just a few short weeks, we managed to organize a grassroots coalition built on a core of 30 activists--made up of teachers, students and community members--who worked together in a way that should serve as a model for Chicago activists. We produced dozens of press releases and received lots of media attention--including coverage on all the major television stations, in all the major newspapers and, of course, in the independent media.

We knocked on doors, gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions and held house meetings. And we built several very successful protests, marches, student actions and public forums--including bringing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Arne Duncan himself to our neighborhood to hear our issues.

The fact that Daley's "pocket school board" rubber-stamped this plan does not mean that we were wrong to fight, but rather that we have much further to go in the struggle to bring accountability to the CPS and keep the military out of our schools.

Save Senn will hold a public meeting on January 11 to discuss our current situation and possible next steps.

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Justice for Palestine
By Ragina Johnson

OAKLAND, Calif.--Some 150 people turned out to protest a banquet by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which promotes U.S. funding of the Israeli military.

The rally at Marriott Hotel on December 13 brought together a range of Palestine solidarity groups: Northern California International Solidarity Movement Support Group, Middle East Children's Alliance, United for Peace and Justice, Bay Area Justice in Palestine Coalition, and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Pro-Israel forces--about 15 people carrying Israeli and U.S. flags--counterprotested, trying to antagonize the Palestine Solidarity activists by chanting over them and making racist slurs. A man dressed in a flak jacket punched a pro-Palestinian activist so hard in the face that he fell backward on the ground. Then he threw a female activist forcefully to the ground. After protesters pulled the attacker off the female activist, police arrested him.

Even though the attack was shocking, Palestine solidarity activists continued their rally and eventually, the Zionist counterprotesters left.

Next year, we want the movement to be large enough to shut down all the fundraising efforts of AIPAC. In order to do this, we need to be organized and reach out to more people by connecting the U.S.'s deadly occupation in Iraq with Israel's own bloody occupation.

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