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News and reports

April 15, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

New York City health care cuts
No to war and occupation
Abolish the death penalty

Defend affirmative action
By Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

NEW YORK--A lively spontaneous protest April 7 targeted an affirmative action "bake sale" organized by College Republicans at New York University.

The "bake sale" charged higher prices to men and white students, claiming this was an example of affirmative action--as though baked goods are analogous to the systematic racism and sexism that real affirmative action programs are meant to combat in a country where more Black men are in the prison system than in four-year colleges. To add insult to injury, the profits from the sale were to be donated to an anti-abortion group!

The protest began when one student, Franchesca Marrero, stood next to the Republicans' table with signs supporting affirmative action. Marrero's posters told her own story as an argument for affirmative action. She had been placed in ESL classes because she is Puerto Rican--even though she doesn't speak any Spanish. Marrero was soon joined by dozens of other students, mostly women of color. Many were part of the Students of Color Alliance or Voices for Choice; others were passersby who stopped to join the protest.

After driving the Republicans from their initial location to a new spot around the corner, about 45 protesters rallied in front of their table with posters, intermittently chanting "Racist, sexist, anti-gay; College Republicans, go away!" In between chants, protesters argued heatedly with the Republicans.

There was palpable anger, not only at this bake sale, but at the lack of diversity and financial aid at NYU.

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New York City health care cuts
By Joe Cleffie

NEW YORK--About 2,000 people rallied in mid-Manhattan April 6 to protest major cuts in the New York State health care budget. Most were from SEIU/1199, the union that called the rally and which represents most unionized health care workers in New York.

The latest state budget includes cuts in health care that total around $3 billion, would slash emergency room staffing and the Family Health Plus program, which gives free health insurance to low-income families. The cuts would also mean layoffs of nurses, nurses' aids and other union employees. Kim, an 1199 member, said, "They're trying to kill two birds with one stone, going after our health care and our unions."

Many at the rally were angry about the billions going to the war and occupation of Iraq. We need more activism around the issue of health care if we are to defeat draconian budget cuts like the ones here in New York.

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No to war and occupation

SAN FRANCISCO--More than 110 student activists came together last weekend at the City College of San Francisco to take part in the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) West Coast conference. Antiwar groups came from colleges and high schools from around the greater Bay Area to discuss ways to further the antiwar movement.

The antiwar movement is now attacking the military machine where it hurts--in its recruitment drive. The systematic attack on public education, from closing sports and music programs to cutting teachers' wages and benefits, is just another way of maintaining the status quo and setting the stage for military recruitment in high schools and universities.

CAN's decision to initiate a counter-recruitment campaign has found a crack in the U.S. imperialist armor. The conference, held the week after University of California-Santa Cruz's Students Against War kicked off the military off their campus, helped to communicate successful strategies in the anti-military recruitment movement and generate new ideas. For further information on CAN, see

-- In Davis, Calif., about 125 people spent their lunch hour at the University of California-Davis demonstrating against the war on Iraq. The first rally of the spring quarter included counter-recruitment speeches, spoken word performances, poetry readings and a call for solidarity with all oppressed peoples.

Large, full-color posters graphically depicted the carnage of war in the Middle East, and many speakers choked back tears as they pointed to the images of mangled Iraqi and Palestinian victims.

Unfortunately, the rally landed on a day when military recruiters skipped their regular presence on campus. Speakers vowed to kick the recruiters off our campus and high schools in the area. Editors and staffers of the various alternative student papers on campus initiated the rally, working over spring break to organize it.

John Green and Alex Acedo contributed to this report.

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Abolish the death penalty
By Stephanie Moy and Justine Prado

SAN FRANCISCO--The San Francisco State University chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) held its first big public event April 7, a "Live from Death Row" event with Stan "Tookie" Williams.

Barbara Becnel, Tookie's literary agent and friend, delivered an inspiring speech that educated, motivated and mobilized the diverse group of 60 in attendance. Stan was unable to call in because his phone privileges had been revoked by prison guards.

Becnel gave an overview of the Williams case and its injustices, emphasizing the flagrant racism that has been present throughout his struggle. She ended with a call to action, urging each person in the room to join the fight against the death penalty by signing up for the CEDP.

Campaign speaker Justine Prado echoed Becnel's sentiments with a rousing speech that cited last year's victory in halting the execution of Kevin Cooper as an example of what activism can achieve. The discussion that followed proved productive, with enthusiastic new audience members asking questions.

Despite Stan's inability to call in, the "Live from Death Row" was a success. Many appeared to leave the event feeling inspired, empowered and eager to join the effort to abolish the death penalty.

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