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News and reports

October 14, 2005 | Page 15

Military off our campus
Voices of a People's History
Stand up for gay and lesbian rights

Stop the Minutemen
By Adam Helfgott

WEST HAVEN, Conn.--Close to 200 people gathered outside the American Legion Hall at an October 5 rally sponsored by Unidad Latina En Accion to protest a meeting of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control (CCIC), a racist anti-immigrant group that is actively organizing for tighter immigration controls in the state.

CCIC cofounder Paul Streitz took part in the vigilante Minutemen Project earlier this year, and has recently conducted a "study" of McDonald's restaurants throughout Connecticut on the make-up of its employees. In letters, Streitz has referred to McDonald's as "MexDonalds." The week before the rally, Streitz released the results of his study at the West Hartford Public Library. The meeting was not attended by any other members of the group, and was interrupted when a man threw a cream pie in his face.

Though not an openly racist group, the CCIC has ties to local white supremacist groups such as White Revolution. The CCIC has so far met four times in Connecticut, each time drawing approximately 40 people. Pro-immigrant groups have organized to confront them every time. "Right-minded U.S. citizens must stand up to racist anti-immigrant groups like CCIC," said Guadalupe Montiel of Unidad Latina.

With chants such as "No more racist vigilantes--equal rights for immigrantes," and "Hey hey, ho ho, the Minutemen have got to go!" the multi-racial crowd confronting Streitz and the CCIC was loud, vibrant and confident.

When three bigots came to the front with anti-immigrant signs, the crowd was there to confront them, directing bullhorns and chants at them. The bigots left after a short period, protected by police. The CCIC's meeting was attended by less than 20 people in all, and was marked by a split within the group, with cofounders Mary Long and Peter Gadiel forming a splinter group--the Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control (SCCIC).

The events of October 5 showed the opposition that exists in Connecticut to the bigots' racism, and that growing numbers of people are prepared to confront it head-on. We have to continue to confront the SCCIC--and any other of the CCIC's racist splinter groups--to marginalize and demoralize them.

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Military off our campus
By Bill Linville and Chad Hawkins

MADISON, Wis.--Approximately 20 activists from Stop the War at the University of Wisconsin (UW) at Madison organized a protest against Navy recruiters at a job fair on campus October 10.

The protest came a week and a half after activists had protested the Air Force, Marines and CIA at another job fair. At that protest, students were threatened with arrest in spite of not violating any university policies.

At this latest protest, activists turned out to hold signs and chant slogans, until police once again threatened arrest for "disorderly conduct," despite the fact that students were conducting a peaceful protest.

About 20 uniformed police were present, with more undercover. Police did not cite any specific policy that protestors had violated. Activists, however, pointed out the Navy was in violation of UW's anti-discrimination code, because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. Throughout the protest, Navy recruiters did not receive any applicants.

The university had received dozens of phone calls as a result of the previous repression against antiwar activists, and were less openly brazen in the intimidation of antiwar activists, despite the increased numbers of police. Activists hope to mount continued pressure to guarantee First Amendment rights on campus, and plans are in the works to file an injunction against the UW's blatant trampling of free speech.

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Voices of a People's History
By Sarah Knopp

LOS ANGELES-- "Voices of a People's History," a night of readings from the book of the same name edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, electrified a capacity crowd of 900 at the Aratani Japan-America Theater October 5. Hundreds had to be turned away from the event, which benefited the NAACP hurricane fund.

The event, sponsored by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, was hosted by Arnove and Zinn, and included actors and activists Viggo Mortensen, Marisa Tomei, Sandra Oh, Danny Glover, Leslie Silva, Josh Brolin, Kerry Washingon, Vanessa Martinez, Floyd Red Crow and Cristina Kirk reading excepts from the book.

The night included speeches from Tecumseh, John Brown and Sojourner Truth. Speeches from Bartolomeo de las Casas and Orlando and Phyllis Rodriguez ("Not in Our Son's Name"), were read in their original Spanish.

The largest cheers of the evening came for Danny Glover's stunning reading of John Lewis' original text of the speech to be delivered at the Lincoln Memorial ("Where's our Party?), Kerry Washington's brilliant reading of Sojourner Truth, and Marisa Tomei's reading of a piece by antiwar actvist Cindy Sheehan. The audience went wild as Tomei, the final reader of the evening, pumped her fist in the air at the end.

Hopefully, the event put fire in people's bellies and encouraged them to organize that fire.

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Stand up for gay and lesbian rights
By Andrew Schiller

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Hundreds of people from all over Ohio gathered on the steps of the statehouse October 1 to demand equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

A variety of speakers spoke about the fight for equal rights, following the passage last November of an amendment to the Ohio constitution that outlawed same-sex marriage. An estimated 800 people attended the event, with many in the crowd chanting "Our home, our state, our lives" at the end of the rally.

The event, sponsored by Equality Ohio, was the group's first public demonstration. Where previous LGBT advocacy groups mainly focused on the Columbus area, Equality Ohio is the first that has a paid staff, a serious budget and leaders from all across the state.

With a platform that calls for equal civil rights and protections for all Ohioans, a safe schools bill that protects all children, and a hate crime act that protects all citizens, Equality Ohio represents an important step forward in the fight for LGBT rights since the "Anybody-but-Bush" wave muzzled activist voices in 2004. The strength of the call for equal rights, however, will lie in organizing independently of the Democrats who spoke at the podium.

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