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News and reports

April 8, 2005 | Page 11

Stop racism at McDonald's
By Noreen McNulty

CHICAGO--On March 30, Chicago Kenwood Academy High School honor student Catherine Smith did what she does nearly everyday. She bought her lunch at a South Side McDonald's a block from her school and sat down in the restaurant to eat it.

This time, the 15-year-old African American was asked by security guards to move to the designated seating area for students. But the seating area was full, she had paid for her lunch, and she intended to eat it. "I paid for the food just like everyone else, and I'm not leaving," she told the guards.

Catherine soon found herself handcuffed by the Chicago Police and sitting in a paddy wagon. Friends called her mother, who asked the police to release her daughter to her, but the police refused. Instead, they took her back to school in the paddy wagon.

She was not formally arrested or charged with any crime--after all, the 1964 Civil Rights Act ended segregation in public accommodations!

Catherine, her family and friends contacted the press and community about the incident. Many were outraged, and the owner of the restaurant apologized and stated that the policy was changed. The following day, about 100 people attended an anti-racist protest in front of the Golden Arches to "support our youth" and demand a public apology from McDonald's management.

With chants of "No justice, no peace," "Supersize justice," and "Rosa Parks of the Golden Arches," students and community members sent their message loud and clear to McDonald's and the rest of the community.

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No to war and occupation

MONTPELIER, Vt.--Some 300 antiwar and social justice activists from across Vermont gathered here April 2 to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq and raise awareness of the right wing's attack on the rights of working people.

Jimmy Massey, a founding member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and former Marine recruiter who is currently on a counter-recruitment tour of Vermont and Massachusetts, spoke about how he went from a gung-ho Marine to an antiwar veteran. As a recruiter, "I lied, cheated, and stole to reach my quota for the month," said Massey, and as a Marine in Iraq working on road checkpoints, "I killed innocent people for our government."

Joseph Gainza, one of the main organizers of the march, told the crowd, "We all want Bush out, but it's not enough to get rid of Bush. He is standing on the shoulders of every president we've ever had."

-- At Columbia University in New York City, more than 70 students attended a mid-day March 29 speakout to oppose the occupation of Iraq. The speakout, sponsored by the Columbia Antiwar Coalition, featured speakers from City College's Antiwar Coalition and Stop McCarthyism at Columbia, who connected the occupation with increased levels of domestic repression.

-- At New York University, a protest called by the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) at New York University (NYU) successfully forced the CIA to cancel a recruitment event on campus last week.

NYU, along with the University of Texas-Pan American, has developed a relationship with the CIA, part of which includes a marketing class, whose final project is to build an advertising campaign marketing the CIA as an "employer of choice," as well as "dispelling myths associated with the CIA," according to the class's website, "Forcing them to cancel their big speaking event was a huge victory," said CAN member Elizabeth Wrigley-Field. "It showed them they can't market an agency that supports torture and murder around the world without a fight."

-- At Mission High School in San Francisco, about 150 people participated in a teach-in about Iraq last week. Cindy Sheehan, a mother of a U.S. soldier killed in action; Sean O'Neil, Iraq Veterans against the War; Howard Wallace, vice-president of the San Francisco Labor Council; and several others spoke at the event.

Jonah Birch, Abe Gomez, Lucas Keturi and Steve Ramey contributed to this report.

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