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News and reports

September 29, 2006 | Pages 14 and 15

Cook County sanctuary campaign
Solidarity with Oaxaca teachers
No to war and occupation
Dick Cheney, go home
Freedom for the Cuban Five

Confront the Minutemen
By Ty Coronado

NATIONAL CITY, Calif.--About 175 pro-immigrant activists converged on City Hall to confront the about 75 Minutemen on September 23.

The anti-immigrant Minutemen came here to protest Mayor Nick Inzunza, who recently announced his desire to make National City a "sanctuary city"--where city funds aren't used to enforce federal immigration laws. The Minutemen waved American flags and held up placards with a mug shot of the mayor.

The move to counter the sanctuary campaign follows increased activity by the Minutemen and other racist groups in the area. Nearly 100 police in riot gear separated the opposing groups and patrolled the area, and a two-mile radius was closed to traffic.

National City is one of the most diverse cities in San Diego County with a 59 percent Latino population, many of whom are undocumented. It also has one of the largest Filipino American communities in the country.

The counter-protest was lively and was made up of a broad coalition of activists, including the ORGANIC collective, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, Unión del Barrio, the ISO and the San Diego citywide immigrant rights coalition Sí Se Puede. "I think this particular event was very important," said Elva Salinas of Sí Se Puede. "There are 155 sanctuary cities, Maywood is the latest, and the Minutemen know they are losing."

The counter-protest showed an increase in activity and cooperation between citywide immigrant rights activists and coalitions.

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Cook County sanctuary campaign
By Bridget Broderick

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS activists in Chicago are pressing for a resolution to make Cook County a "sanctuary county" amid new examples of anti-immigrant abuse and harassment that show the need for the measure.

At a September 14 public hearing, Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado introduced his resolution that would prohibit county employees and Cook County law enforcement officials from engaging in immigration enforcement activities. The City of Chicago has a similar ordinance in place, which does not prevent federal immigration agents from detaining immigrants.

Maldonado had announced his proposal nearly a month ago when he was among the public officials visiting Elvira Arellano--the Mexican worker without documents who faces deportation and separation from her American citizen son, Saul--at the local church where she has taken sanctuary.

At the hearing, the majority of people spoke in favor of the "sanctuary county" idea, raising concerns about recent cases of police and security officials' abuse of Latinos who were "suspected of being illegal."

Several days before, Augustín Sotomayor, a 75-year-old man who had previously suffered a stroke, was waiting for his wife in a no-parking zone at Cook County's Stroger Hospital campus. Police officers working as security guards approached him, tackled him to the ground and accused him of being an undocumented immigrant. Sotomayor is Puerto Rican.

Following the incident, Sotomayor went to another hospital after suffering a second stroke. His family has filed a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Ernesto Cruz, a 21-year-old college student born in Mexico, was arrested by Chicago police officers in Albany Park, a predominantly immigrant North Side neighborhood. The two officers allegedly wore U.S. Border Patrol caps and questioned Cruz about his immigration status--in direct violation of the city ordinance.

Albany Park residents decided to enforce the sanctuary ordinance themselves, organizing a protest of over 80 neighbors, who marched from a local high school to the police station to demand the officers be disciplined.

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Solidarity with Oaxaca teachers
By Alvaro Lopez

NEW YORK--More than 60 activists came out to the Mexican consulate in New York City September 21 to show their support for the striking teachers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The picket drew various groups on the left, as well as members of unions like the United Federation of Teachers and the Professional Staff Congress.

The picket was called in order to protest the blatant attacks by Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz on the 70,000 striking teachers. This international show of solidarity came as world leaders were just a few blocks away at the United Nations General Assembly.

Several speakers at the picket connected the attack against working people in Mexico with the struggles workers face in the U.S., from the struggle for immigrant rights to the fight against anti-labor laws like the Taylor Laws, which deny public workers the right to strike.

The picket sends a clear message to the Mexican government that activists in the United States are in solidarity with the teacher's strike in Oaxaca and the fight for democracy across Mexico.

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No to war and occupation
By Sam Bernstein

SEATTLE--Several hundred people demonstrated, and 40 activists were arrested, for blocking the gates to the Indian Island Naval Reserve in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience on September 23.

Indian Island Naval Reserve is the largest military shipping depot on the West Coast and sends the bulk of weapons and supplies to Iraq.

Indian Island was protested as part of the Declaration of Peace national week of action. The day began with a Peace and Justice Festival at a nearby park where a large banner declared "Free the Ft. Lewis war resisters!" in support of Ehren Watada, Suzanne Swift, Kevin Benderman and other soldiers detained at the Puget Sound Army base for opposing the Iraq war and refusing to fight in it.

Though the 2006 mid-term elections have attracted the focus of much of the antiwar movement, only one candidate from Washington participated--Green Party candidate for Senate Aaron Dixon. Dixon is running an unapologetically antiwar campaign as a challenger to pro-war Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell.

Children, seniors with walkers, students and veterans were welcomed by many honking passers-by in this largely rural area. At the base, the march was "greeted" by lines of state troopers and sheriffs in front of the locked gates.

Chanting "What do we want? Troops home! When do we want it? Now!" the antiwar crowd inched forward, first blocking the road in front of the base and then surrounding those engaging in direct action. As the police descended on and began arresting those who were committing civil disobedience, protesters chanted, "This is what democracy looks like--that is what hypocrisy looks like!" and "Sí se puede, we can stop the war!"

This spirited day of direct action succeeded in temporarily stopping the flow of weapons to and from the port and was a strong show of opposition to the U.S.'s deadly wars in the Middle East.

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Dick Cheney, go home
By Juliana Karr

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--Perhaps Dick Cheney thought he could swoop into Rochester, take a few pictures, raise tons of cash, and leave unnoticed. Instead, about 250 angry residents gathered outside Rochester's Convention Center September 22 to protest the vice president.

Cheney was attending a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Randy Kuhl, charging guests $1,000 for a photo with him. This marks Cheney's 91st visit in support of Republican candidates prior to the midterm elections. He has helped raise over $40 million.

Metro Justice, the "Raging Grannies," Democratic Party volunteers and the American Friends Service Committee were joined by workers and students disgusted with the "war on terror" and the infringement of their civil liberties. The local newspaper reported that more people came out to protest in the street than to rub elbows inside with Cheney.

The majority of Rochesterians are just trying to make ends meet, and support for the war in Iraq is very low. Money for jobs, not for war!

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Freedom for the Cuban Five
By Chris Yarrison

WASHINGTON--At least 500 protesters gathered outside the White House September 23 to demand freedom for the Cuban Five, prisoners accused of espionage by the U.S. The protest follows a ruling handed down August 9 by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that denied the Cuban Five's appeal for a new trial some eight years after they were incarcerated.

The five were monitoring violent right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami, but were arrested in 1998 and convicted of spying on U.S. military facilities, even though federal prosecutors never introduced any evidence of such espionage.

The protest, called by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, attracted supporters from all across the country. "The Cuban Five languish in prison," said Max Lesnick, a leader of the Alianza Martiana, as the crowd gathered outside of the Justice Department, "while Bush and the real terrorists roam free!"

Other speakers pointed out that even while the Five are imprisoned, the U.S. harbors the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who is allegedly responsible for hotel bombings in Cuba and the 1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455, in which 73 people were killed. Then with chants of "Cuba si, bloqueo no" and "Two, four, six eight, Cuba is a sovereign state", protesters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

The case of the Cuban Five is important because it reveals the hypocritical goals of the true "war on terror," in which only those on the wrong side of the U.S. are prosecuted.

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