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News and reports

June 10, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

Stop the bigots
Stop U.S. weapons of mass destruction
Free Palestine
Bring the troops home now

Defend the CCNY Four
By Tiffany Paul

NEW YORK--About two dozen people picketed in front of City University of New York (CUNY) Central to demonstrate their support for Carol Lang, a CUNY staff member arrested in March along with three students for protesting the presence of military recruiters on their campus.

Although the district attorney dropped all criminal charges against the four, Carol still faced an arbitration hearing between the administration and her union, AFSCME District Council 37, which is demanding Carol receive back pay for the month she was suspended without pay.

Outrageously, the administration is calling for further discipline--yet another month's suspension without pay. Whether or not they get away with this will be determined at Carol's June 13 hearing.

Carol and students Nick Bergreen, Justino Rodriguez and Hadas Thier were charged with assault and resisting arrest after campus police brutalized them during an unprovoked arrest at the college's job fair. The four attended the fair, along with about 20 others, to send a message to the military and the CUNY administration that dying in Iraq is not a job opportunity, and recruiters are not welcome on campus.

The administration--faced with a rise in protest against the war, tuition hikes and for a better contract by the Professional Staff Congress teachers' union--attempted to make an example out of the four through brutality, arrest and suspension without due process.

In response, activists and allies organized a defense committee, which gained widespread support from CUNY students and staff as well as support from the broader antiwar movement such as members of Gold Star Families for Peace and historian Howard Zinn. Through organizing pickets and speak-outs, circulating petitions, and calling press conferences, we showed the administration that we won't be silenced.

Although they wouldn't let us inside the hearing, our voices and chants were heard inside the courtroom, according to people inside the hearing, who said that the whole room could hear us and that the administration looked "shaken up." We need to keep up the pressure and show the administration that we won't back down when it comes to our right to dissent on campus.

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Stop the bigots
By Keith Rosenthal and Michael Schwartz

BROOKLINE, Mass.--Approximately 100 people came out for a counter-protest June 5 against the right-wing bigot Fred Phelps at the Brookline High School graduation.

The group of seven bigots, descending from Topeka, Kan., and toting placards reading "God Hates Fags," had decided to picket outside of Brookline High School because of its strong Gay Student Association (GSA) and because of the school's progressive sexual education classes. Phelps, a self-ordained minister, is notorious for organizing a protest against the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was killed because of his sexual orientation in Laramie, Wyo., in 1998.

Gay student associations from high schools across Massachusetts, the Boston Alliance of Gay & Lesbian Youth, and the Gay and Lesbian Labor Activist Network, amongst others, all mobilized for the counterprotest. "I thought it was the responsibility of the student body and the school not to ignore [Phelps]," said Zack Rowe, a Brookline graduate.

For about an hour and a half, the counterprotesters chanted at the bigots and raised banners up high to block their signs from view. Finally, when the bigots turned tail to leave, a group of four Neo-Nazis from a group called "White Revolution" were spotted nearby, holding antigay signs. But before long, the Nazis also ran away under police escort.

We have to keep organizing to confront the far right to make sure that they don't grow--and to build momentum for our side.

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Stop U.S. weapons of mass destruction
By Holly Beth and David Thurston

FREDERICK, Md.-- Members of the community of came out June 5 to protest a massive expansion of the U.S. Army's biochemical research facilities at Fort Detrick. Less than three miles from the city's center, the U.S. government plans to build four new "biodefense" facilities, together known as the National Interagency Biodefense Campus. The army's 45-acre facility alone will cost $1 billion.

The function of these new labs is to house experiments on infectious germs for which there are neither vaccines nor cures. Already, a U.S. Army scientist in Maryland is trying to recreate the 1918 Spanish flu, a virus that killed 40 million people.

Protestors are outraged by the health effects of having these materials in their town--and shocked by the horrors being unleashed in Washington's chemical laboratories.

Well over 100 residents of Frederick, as well as outside supporters, came to speak out against the bioweapons development. There was also an overwhelming anti-military sentiment in regard to the U.S. occupation in Iraq. The protest, organized by Frederick Progressive Action Coalition, brought together a range of organizations, including the Green Party, the Peace Resource Center, Women in Black of Frederick, Code Pink and the ISO.

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Free Palestine
By Frankie Cook

NEW YORK--About 200 activists protested the annual Salute to Israel Parade on June 5. The demonstration was organized by the Palestine Action Forum of New York to take a stand against the apartheid state of Israel and to demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Protesters chanted "Two, four, six, eight, Israel is a racist state" and "Ethnic cleansing is a crime, free, free Palestine!"

Although the protest was smaller than other years, it was important that activists came out to take a stand against Israel's crimes--and the racism of the marchers who carried signs that read "Expel the Arabs." "The role the U.S. is playing is very biased," said protester Enam Saadeh. "Just last year, they gave billions of dollars to Israel, which was used to destroy Palestinian homes, schools, employment offices and hospital clinics. Without U.S. aid, Israel could not continue its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza."

The U.S. antiwar movement needs to take up justice for Palestinians as part of the struggle against U.S. plans to dominate the Middle East and its oil reserves.

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Bring the troops home now
By Stephanie Schwartz

NEW YORK--About 100 veterans, military family members and antiwar activists gathered at the Vietnam Veterans memorial here for a May 29 vigil to remember soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. The event was sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Black Veterans for Social Justice and Gold Star Families for Peace.

The vigil provided a refreshing change of pace from the flag waving and patriotic justifications for the Iraq war that characterized mainstream events throughout the holiday weekend.

Veterans for Peace President Dave Cline set the tone for the vigil by asking Americans to "remember the human cost of the war." Alex Ryabov of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke about the hypocrisy of a war to bring various freedoms to Iraqis given the severe restrictions on freedom at home. And he defended the right of Iraqis to resist the occupation, comparing sections of the resistance to the founding fathers of the United States.

Cline ended his address on with a message echoed by many of the speakers: "Bring the troops home now, and treat them right when they get here."

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