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News and reports

November 4, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

Campaign to End AIDS
Fight racism at SFSU

Stand up for immigrant rights
By Jenny Olson

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--More than 700 counter-demonstrators came together August 29 to disrupt a racist Minuteman rally held on the State Capitol steps here.

The Minuteman Project, a group of vigilantes that has been terrorizing immigrants trying to cross the border in California and Arizona, rallied to support a California Border Police initiative which would establish a state border police in addition to the existing federal border police.

Organizers of the counter-protest included the Bay Area Coalition to Fight the Minutemen, Deporten a la Migra, the ANSWER Coalition and Los Zapatistas. Counter-demonstrators chanted in both Spanish and English while marching to the Capitol steps to shout down approximately 200 supporters of the initiative, including Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist.

A line of police blockaded the steps while counter-demonstrators remained lively and loud, chanting "racists go home" to the beat of the Brass Liberation Orchestra. For an hour, the counterprotesters marched back and forth in front of the Capitol, drowning out the Minuteman rally with their chants.

A closing speak-out was held at the opposite end of the Capitol to remind immigrant rights activists of our fight ahead. "Whenever the economy gets bad, Latinos become scapegoats," an organizer told the crowd. "In reality, we create the wealth." Undocumented immigrants have some of the dirtiest, most dangerous and worst-paying jobs, but in return have very few rights.

The crowd was encouraged to protest the state's driver's license policy December 12, the second anniversary of a one-day statewide labor and school strike sparked by Schwarzenegger's repealing licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Immigrant rights activists need to continue confronting the Minutemen and other anti-immigrant vigilantes on the borders, organizing rallies when then they try to enter our cities with their racist rhetoric, and defeating anti-immigrant ballot initiatives. We need to unite and fight for "un mundo sin fronteras"--a world without borders.

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Campaign to End AIDS
By Conor Reed

A COALITION of 14 AIDS advocacy organizations has mobilized hundreds of activists to converge on Washington, D.C., November 4 for "Four Days of Action to End AIDS."

Since the kick-off date of October 15, a dozen caravans have been heading toward Washington, making stops in almost 100 cities and towns to raise awareness about the epidemic.

In Salt Lake City, activists lined up 8,500 pairs of shoes in front of the city's main library to represent the number of people who die each day of AIDS. A caravan from New York began its 22-day, 230-mile journey with a march from Times Square through the Lincoln Tunnel, connecting New York and New Jersey.

Currently, more than 40 million people are living with AIDS worldwide. AIDS kills one child every minute, and 14,000 people contract HIV daily. AIDS has become a primary cause of homelessness in the U.S., and African American women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of AIDS than women of other ethnicities.

"Some people think it's hyperbole when we talk about ending the AIDS epidemic," said Charles King, of the Campaign to End AIDS and the New York City-based Housing Works. But, he added, "If they can do needle exchanges in Tehran, we can do it in this country. If they can pass out condoms in China, we can do it in our schools."

In Washington, activists will hold rallies, visit lawmakers and participate in a civil disobedience action. The campaign is pushing the government to reauthorize and fully fund the recently expired Ryan White CARE Act, protect Medicaid from severe budget cuts, strengthen U.S. support for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, approve global debt cancellation and more.

"By marching through these places, we're able to reach people personally and give them this message that AIDS is a serious problem that affects many people in this country and can no longer be ignored," said Daniel Solon, a Housing Works Bookstore staff member and participant in the New York to D.C. caravan.

For more information on the Campaign to End Aids, go to on the Web.

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Fight racism at SFSU

SAN FRANCISCO--Antwi Akom, an ethnic studies professor at San Francisco State University, was arrested October 25 in a clear case of racial profiling as he entered his office to pick up a book he needed.

Before entering the Ethnic Studies building at 10 p.m., a security officer asked him why he was there. He responded by saying he was a professor, and he needed a book. When he came out, there was a police officer waiting for him who told him to put his hands behind his back.

When Akom asked why he was being arrested, the officer had no answer for him. The two began to argue, and the police officer called for backup. The three police officers forcefully threw Akom to the ground, arrested him and charged him with two felonies--resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

This is not the first incident of police racism at SFSU. In April 2004, a 15-year-old African American high school student was beaten and arrested in front of fellow high school students by campus police, only to be found innocent hours later. "What's interesting is that [Akom] is living proof of what we teach in ethnic studies," Matthew Shenoda, one of Akom's colleagues, explained to XPress, the campus newspaper. "You can have all the credentials in the world, and it does not matter."

Jeffrey Boyette, Kristin Lubbert and Camille White-Avian contributed to this report.

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