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News and reports

March 4, 2005 | Page 15

No to war and occupation

NEW HAVEN, Conn.--About 20 students at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) successfully chased military recruiters from the Army National Guard from their student center the morning of February 23. The SCSU Antiwar Coalition decided to arrive early and set up our antiwar message at the recruiters' reserved table.

Already, 127 students at SCSU have gone off to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Four activists blocked the recruiters' table and handed out counter-recruitment information, while the students behind our table grilled the two recruiters with questions about why they discriminate against gays, lesbians, and transgender people and how quickly will those who sign up will go off to war. In less than 90 minutes, the recruiters decided to call it a day after not getting a single person to even make an appointment, let alone sign up.

-- In Berkeley, Calif., about 30 antiwar students and activists gathered at a University of California (UC)-Berkeley career fair February 23 to protest the presence of Marine Corps recruiters. After picketing the fair, students marched inside to confront the recruiters with questions about the war and their homophobic practices that violate UC anti-discrimination policy--although an administrator told protesters that the military was exempt from the policy.

When administrators threatened to call police, students marched out of the building chanting, continuing their picket outside. This protest, though small, gave campus activists greater confidence in our arguments and highlighted the importance of direct action.

-- In San Francisco, about 100 people turned out February 26 to organize against military recruitment in the schools.

The atmosphere in the room was energetic. Myths of educational and career opportunities in the military were debunked by speakers who addressed the poverty draft and the recruiters' targeting of low-income and minority communities. Ramon Leal of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke about how his experiences in Iraq turned him against the war, and encouraged veterans in the room to get involved.

-- In Burlington, Vt., more than 60 students and community members attended the February 23 panel discussion, "Why We Say Bring Them Home Now." The meeting was timed to build support for a March 1 ballot measure in Burlington that calls for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Speakers included Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Elaine Hagopian, editor of the recent book, Civil Rights in Peril, Colleen McLaughlin of the Burlington MFSO and Lee Sustar of the ISO.

Max Clark, Todd Dewey, Jess Kochick and Anna Schlotz contributed to this report.

Remember Malcolm X
By Conor Reed

NEW YORK--A lively crowd of over 300 packed the Earl Hall Auditorium at Columbia University February 21 to hear a panel of speakers illustrate the continuing importance of Malcolm X's radical politics on the 40th anniversary of his assassination.

The panel, titled "Malcolm X: Life After Death," included Manning Marable, a leading African-American scholar at Columbia, who is writing a new book on Malcolm. Marable recently helped establish a memorial to Malcolm on the site of his assassination, the old Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, which is now part of a Columbia facility.

Panelists spoke about Malcolm's tireless campaigns against racism, the Vietnam War and, by extension, U.S. imperialism. Speakers also discussed how Malcolm raised class issues in relation to poverty.

Another Columbia professor, the African American historian Robin Kelley, connected Malcolm's antiwar stances to activists' fight today against the U.S. occupation in Iraq. "Support for the war is dependent on anti-Muslim racism," he said. "It is about oil, yes, but there is a strong racist component as well. And we need to fight against racism in all its forms." Kelley also criticized public and media attempts at pitting Malcolm X's views against those of Martin Luther King, arguing that both men converged around anti-imperialism and a critique of capitalism.

Throughout the event, the crowd energetically applauded statements made by the panel calling for people to get organized in opposition to international oppression and racism in a strong collective movement. Sonia Sanchez, a poet, activist and professor at Columbia, led the crowd in a chant of "Resist! Resist! Resist!"

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