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News and reports

June 3, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Stand up for immigrant rights
We say no to the Bush agenda
Justice for Palestine

Shut down the military recruiters
By Dave Saito

SAN FRANCISCO--Nearly 100 students and workers united May 28 to kick off "College Not Combat," a campaign to gather 10,000 signatures in order to place a proposition on the upcoming November ballot.

The measure would denounce the presence of military recruiters in our public schools, colleges and university facilities. The proposition also states San Francisco should oppose the "economic draft," the military's strategy to direct recruitment efforts towards the nation's poor, and "investigate the means by which to fund and grant scholarships for college and job training to low-income students so they are not economically compelled to join the military."

The day began with a host of prominent speakers, including founder of Gold Star Families for Peace Cindy Sheehan; San Francisco District 6 supervisor Chris Daly; former supervisor and mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez; and American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 president Allen Fisher. Sheehan told the audience that her son Casey, who was killed in the line of duty, "was promised a $20,000 bonus but was only given $4,000" and "told he would not see any combat duty."

This grassroots movement is part of a larger goal of driving the military out of our nation's schools. This petition drive especially timely in light of news that the military is falling short of recruitment goals by as much as 42 percent in recent months. Gonzalez noted that public exposure of the "economic draft" at the grassroots level has the potential to motivate a nationwide movement.

Immediately following the kickoff event, students and workers alike dispersed throughout the city to gather signatures from registered voters for the petition. The petition was met very favorably by many of the city's residents. Citizens of San Francisco overwhelmingly expressed their frustration about the military's insidious attempts to exploit the socioeconomic barriers that exist in our society and the inappropriateness of the military on school campuses.

With the success of the kickoff campaign, it seems clear that this movement is headed in the right direction. As Sheehan demanded, "Our nation's youth can no longer serve as cannon fodder!"

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Stand up for immigrant rights
By Leela Yellesetty

WEST HARTFORD, Conn.--About 200 people from across Connecticut gathered here May 24 to protest a meeting being held by anti-immigrant bigots.

The anti-immigrant meeting was organized by Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control (CCIC), a group that is pursuing an aggressive legislative strategy that includes attempting to deputize state police so they can detain undocumented immigrants and deny driver's licenses to immigrants. The meeting featured a speaker who had just returned from patrolling the U.S. border in Arizona with the vigilante Minuteman Project, a group of right-wing extremists who have taken it upon themselves to assist the savage and racist U.S. Border Patrol.

With less than two weeks notice, a diverse group of activists from around the state created a Committee for Immigrant Rights and organized to stand up against the bigots. "When people learned that CCIC was targeting West Hartford, there was immediate outrage," said Peter Goselin, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild and member of the new Committee for Immigrant Rights. "People felt the need to organize a strong response showing support for immigrants in our community."

Demonstrators met a few blocks away and marched to the Elmwood Community Center where the meeting was being held. They held a picket in front and then gathered for a press conference and speak out.

"Groups like the CCIC are always claiming that immigrants are bad for the U.S., that immigrants steal jobs or make taxes go up," said Marela Zacarias, an organizer for the Hartford group Latinos Contra La Guerra (Latinos Against the War). "That's a lie. A National Academy of Sciences study shows that immigrants add $10 billion a year in value to the economy. It's hypocritical to attack immigrants for being a drain on the economy, when the government's war on Iraq has wasted $200 billion so far."

Speakers also noted the U.S. military's cynical strategy of recruiting undocumented immigrants to fight in the war in Iraq by promising them citizenship.

While the committee did not organize people to go inside the meeting, largely due to the fear that immigrant participants would be targeted, many demonstrators chose to go inside to disrupt and heckle the speakers. A heavy police presence was assembled to make sure the bigots weren't interrupted, but they were forced to shut down after all the questions from the floor came from demonstrators. Of the 80 people in the room, only about 30 appeared to be in support of CCIC, the rest being protesters.

After the meeting, Mary Long, one of the CCIC organizers, admitted that they may have to rethink having public meetings. "We really need to decide if this kind of meeting serves a purpose," she said. Meanwhile, activists are already preparing for the next demonstration, scheduled for June 12 in Danbury, Conn., where attacks on immigrant communities have been on the rise.

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We say no to the Bush agenda
By Brian Lenzo and Josh Karpoff

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--More than 200 people came to protest President Bush during a speech promoting his plan to privatize Social Security at a local high school. Protesters carried signs criticizing Bush on a wide range of issues--from the war in Iraq to Medicaid cuts to Social Security. Protesters equaled the number of Bush supporters, creating a sharply polarized environment.

Activists from the citywide Rochester Against War (RAW) coalition raised chants linking Bush's wars abroad to his war on the working class at home. A RAW activist, serving as an "embedded reporter," gave a live report to a local radio talk show from the protest. Two longtime Rochester activists were arrested during a nonviolent sit-down protest in the driveway of the school.

Later the same day, a wide coalition of groups held a "Save Social Security" rally downtown. According to event organizers, more than 1,000 people attended, including local union contingents, social workers and local Democratic Party politicians.

These two actions show that people are willing to stand up to Bush and his relentless attacks on working people. He should be confronted wherever he shows his face!

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Justice for Palestine
By Alessandro Tinonga

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.--Students at the University of California-Santa Cruz held the fourth annual Palestine Awareness Week in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for independence. Three consecutive days of events were held, including the raising of a 20-foot replica of the apartheid wall in the center of campus.

At this event and throughout the week, the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and other student allies came under attack from pro-Israeli students. The most vicious incident occurred when a male pro-Israeli student verbally and physically assaulted a female CJP member.

Multiple witnesses say that the man repeatedly shoved into the student's chest and shouted racial epithets. Charges have been brought against the student, and the university is currently running two investigations into the incident.

Unfortunately, such actions are only the latest in a long history of assaults against students in CJP. Further, despite these instances of assault, university administrators rarely take these attacks seriously.

Nevertheless, students have been effective in exposing the injustices of Israel's occupation of Palestine. Every year, Palestine Awareness Week builds both sympathy and active support for the Palestinian struggle. To strengthen this movement and other struggles for progressive causes, we must unite.

Nobody should feel threatened when organizing for social justice, and it's important to establish these links now as conservative groups try to single out supporters of the Palestinian struggle.

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