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News and reports

July 22, 2005 | Page 15

Defend abortion rights
The right to protest

Get military recruiters out of our schools
By Alessandro Tinonga

SAN FRANCISCO—Volunteers for the "College Not Combat" campaign submitted petitions with more than 15,400 signatures on July 11 to the city of San Francisco to put a counter-recruitment initiative on the November ballot.

The measure encourages city officials and university administrators to exclude military recruiters from schools and campuses and to create scholarships and training to reduce the military's appeal to youth. "This initiative strikes at the core of the War Machine," said Aimee Allison, a veteran and Green Party candidate. "When they [the recruiters] say they'll pay for college, it's a lie. They promised me $10,000, and I never saw one cent."

For six weeks, the all-volunteer campaign has been aggressively collecting signatures, easily surpassing the minimum of 10,000 signatures required to get the measure on the ballot. "It was relatively easy to gather signatures," said Ragina Johnson, a volunteer organizer. "Many people are fed up with the war and the lies that are told to our students and were willing to sign up."

More than 50 organizations and political leaders have publicly endorsed the ballot initiative, including the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, Service Employees International Union Local 790, United Educators of San Francisco and the San Francisco Labor Council.

The final push to gather signatures took place on June 9, where 100 volunteers showed up to gather more than 4,000 signatures.

-- In New York City, about 50 people came from across the city for a vibrant and well-received demonstration in Brooklyn's Fulton Mall. Demonstrators handed out flyers and targeted the large military recruitment station strategically placed in this mainly Black, working-class neighborhood.

The event was the first of many mobilizations that will be held this summer to target recruiters throughout the city.

The New York City Counter-Recruitment Committee, which grew out of a well-attended Educators to Stop the War conference this past spring, called for the event, and many organizations attended, including the Campus Antiwar Network, the United Federation of Teachers to Stop the War, Brooklyn Parents for Peace, the International Socialist Organization, the local chapter of Military Families Speak Out and others.

The level of community support for the counter-recruiters was energizing and shows that there's a large audience that can be mobilized for the national antiwar mobilization in Washington, D.C. on September 24.

Aaron Amaral contributed to this report.

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Defend abortion rights
By Sabrina Fletcher and Randy Childs

PRO-CHOICE demonstrators took to the streets in California in mid-July to confront right wingers and stand up for abortion rights.

-- In San Francisco, about 40 abortion rights supporters stood up against a group of about 15 anti-choice protesters July 16 in front of the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate clinic, staging one of the first clinic defenses that this city had seen in many years.

This counter-protest was held in response to the arrival of a traveling group of college-aged youths from the American Life League, a right-wing anti-choice Catholic group. These anti-abortion bigots who are on what they call a "Crusade for Life," were met by an abortion-rights coalition made up of groups from around the Bay Area including the International Socialist Organization, the Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women, Code Pink and other advocates for abortion rights.

The pro-choice group surrounded the bigots, dancing with their signs, and continued to rally in support of the clinic, even through the "die-in" staged by the anti-abortionists, who pretended to drop dead to the ground, curling up in the fetal petition for over an hour.

Responses from passing San Franciscans were overwhelmingly positive, with a general feeling of relief that their opinions were finally the ones being shouted into the streets. The counter-protesters' refusal to stand quietly by and let the bigots be the only ones heard was greeted by elated honks from an abundant amount of cars, three passing Muni public buses and even a Lutheran church van.

-- In Los Angeles, a day earlier, about 50 women and men rallied at a busy intersection in western Los Angeles on July 15 to stand up for a woman's right to choose. Protesters demonstrated a level of determination and energy that is sorely needed in the struggle for abortion rights.

For more than an hour, activists circled the intersection, crossing the street with every light change, waving signs that said, "Honk for Choice!" The enthusiastic response from passing rush-hour drivers created a practically uninterrupted symphony of car horns.

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The right to protest
By Katrina Yeaw

SAN FRANCISCO—Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild filed suit against San Francisco State University (SFSU) July 15, 2005, on behalf of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Students Against War (SAW), a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network.

The suit arises from the SFSU administration's response to a March 9, 2005 counter-recruitment protest on campus. That day, some 200 students rallied in Malcolm X Plaza and then marched into the Cesar Chavez Student Center to confront Army and Air Force recruiters, who eventually abandoned their tables.

SFSU retaliated by attacking both individual student activists and organizations involved. The sanctions include denying funding for both the ISO and SAW in the 2005-2006 academic year, and forcing the leadership of the ISO to go through training on the university's demonstration guidelines before it can have any more events.

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