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News and reports

June 17, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Defend immigrant rights
Abolish the death penalty
Defend abortion rights

College Not Combat
By Roger Dyer and Brian Cruz

SAN FRANCISCO--Antiwar activists are spearheading an effort to get an anti-military recruitment proposition on the ballot here. Just two weeks into the petitioning drive, the College Not Combat (CNC) ballot initiative already has more than half of the 10,500 signatures required to get it on the November ballot.

The CNC proposition would allow San Francisco to voice its opposition to military recruiters using public school, college and university facilities to recruit young people as cannon fodder--while showing its support for scholarships and job training as an alternative to the "poverty draft."

The anger that people harbor toward the war in Iraq can also be tapped into and directed at military recruiters in our schools. "The military going into every school and college actually gives us a chance to get at the war machine," said Todd Chretien, a CNC organizer.

With recruiters being exposed daily for their lies and with parents and those against recruitment in our schools gaining confidence to point it out, the campaign has garnered endorsements from more than 40 groups and individuals, including antiwar organizations, veterans organizations and labor unions. Local news and radio stations have also been keeping the pulse of the CNC campaign, with the local radio station KPFA airing a weekly update on the initiative.

This effort follows the overwhelming passage last November of Proposition N, by a 63-to-37 percent margin, that called on the city to urge the U.S. government to withdraw all troops from Iraq. These signs indicate that San Franciscans are ready to exclaim, "Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!"

For more information or to get involved, call 415-248-1701 or go to www.CollegeNotCombat.org.

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Defend immigrant rights
By Freddy Garcia

VICTORVILLE, Calif.--The racist anti-immigrant group Save Our State held a June 11 rally outside a Home Depot to protest its support of undocumented day laborers. Along with Save Our State, there were racists from neo-Nazi groups like Stormfront and the National Alliance at the rally.

Local immigrants rights activists organized a counterprotest across the street from Save Our State's tiny event with its 19 supporters. During the protest, our side was able to bring people that were shopping or passing by to join us. As our side grew to a couple dozen, the racists finally left with a clear message--wherever they show their faces, there will be people to confront them.

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Abolish the death penalty
By David Buckingham

BURLINGTON, Vt.--The federal government is seeking a death sentence in a case it plans to try here in Vermont, but anti-death penalty activists are pushing back. The indictment, originally brought by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, charges Donald Fell with three counts of murder.

This trial is being used as a wedge by the federal government to re-introduce the death penalty to Vermont, a state that has not executed anyone since 1954 and which abolished capital punishment in 1987.

Vermonters Against the Death Penalty has been organizing weekly pickets at the courthouse where jury selection is taking place and has gathered hundreds of signatures on an anti-death penalty petition. They are using the petition to engage with other people and encourage them to get involved with the struggle. The coalition is also organizing a public panel, bringing an exonerated death row prisoner, family members of murder victims and others to speak out against the death penalty.

In 2002, John Ashcroft overturned 12 plea-bargains and turned them into federal death penalty cases, specifically targeting states that have abolished capital punishment--even as evidence mounts from across the U.S. that the death penalty is racist and has sentenced innocent people to die time and again.

It's time for the United States to abolish capital punishment, but this will only be possible if we continue to organize grassroots opposition.

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Defend abortion rights
By Mary Rapien

CRANSTON, R.I.--On June 10, International Socialist Organization members and allies led a "park-in" and "sign-blocking" to keep right-wing bigots from harassing women as they entered the Women's Medical Center of Rhode Island. The clinic is one of only two in the state that provides abortion services.

"Joe," an anti-abortion fanatic who has protested at the clinic unchallenged, three days a week for the past two years, was visibly perturbed to find that activists had arrived at the clinic earlier, parked in his favorite spots and set up our signs on "his" trees.

With 17 people stopping by throughout the morning, we were able to block a significant number of his graphic, fake signs with our own. Our signs included slogans such as "Women welcome here," and "Pro-choice and proud."

As Joe attempted to hand out literature, activists placed signs in front of him and warned people that "This man is not pro-choice. Don't listen to him." Neighbors honked in support, and several stopped by to thank us for coming out, promising to attend the next community organizing meeting to be held June 14.

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