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News and reports

December 8, 2006 | Page 11

Bring the troops home now
Fight LA police violence
Solidarity with Palestine
Oaxaca solidarity

U.S. Labor Against War
By Brian Cruz, SEIU Local 790

CLEVELAND--More than 300 unionists and supporters from around the country gathered here for U.S. Labor Against War's (USLAW) 2006 National Assembly and Conference the weekend of December 1-3.

The event was marked by enthusiasm over the defeat of the Republicans in the recent midterm elections and debate about whether the incoming Democratic Congress will end the war. However, the USLAW Delegates Assembly voted to table a resolution put forward by Jerry Gordon of the Ohio Labor Party that rejected current attempts to repackage the occupation under the guise of "redeployment."

The resolution stated: "Resolved that USLAW will maintain its immediate withdrawal position and will not support or endorse any measure or campaign that falls short of that position and contravenes USLAW's Mission Statement, which calls for 'bringing the troops home now.'"

While USLAW is still on record as calling for bringing the troops home, the fact that the organization chose not to reaffirm this position opens the door to current plans for "phased withdrawal." Instead, the assembly--composed of more than 100 unionists and supporters representing union locals, central labor bodies, labor antiwar committees and other organizations--voted to refer Gordon's resolution to the USLAW steering committee.

And even after Israel's war on Lebanon and its escalation of violence in Gaza, the assembly didn't approve resolutions in support of the people of Palestine and Lebanon against Israeli aggression. Instead, the matter will be referred to a committee that is supposed to facilitate debate on the subject within USLAW.

Another resolution calling for the support of the people of Oaxaca led to a debate over our relationship to other struggles and was also referred to the steering committee.

Several resolutions were passed, including mobilization for the January 27 antiwar protest in Washington, D.C., opposition to war on Iran and support for Katrina victims.

The assembly was followed by an open labor antiwar conference, which featured a panel comprised of Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Iraqi trade unionist Samir Adil from the Iraq Freedom Congress. All called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Kucinich called for stopping Congress' funding of the war through a mass mobilization--"a million people"--on the streets of Washington, D.C.

An ad hoc session on organizing for the spring mobilizations was called. Despite an initial presentation that focused on lobbying Congress, participants butted in and used the opportunity to start talking about concrete next steps, including building for the January 27 protest.

Other ideas included a national petition campaign for immediate withdrawal, connecting strikes, such as that at Goodyear, to the war, and even occupying offices of those in Congress.

While the conference overall expressed varying degrees of support for the Democrats, there was general agreement that we can't rely solely on politicians--and that what matters most in ending the war is mass participation in the antiwar movement.

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Bring the troops home now
By Jim Ramey

RUTLAND, Vt.--On November 25, Liam Madden, a sergeant in the U.S. Marines and veteran of the invasion of Iraq, spoke to a crowd of 100 about the growing resistance to the Iraq War. The crowd also watched the film Sir! No Sir!, which chronicles stories of G.I. resistance during the Vietnam War.

Madden gained national publicity by helping to start the "Appeal for Redress," a petition that has been signed by more than 1,200 members of the U.S. military. The petition calls on Congress to "promptly withdraw the troops and bases from Iraq," and declares that it is "time for the troops to come home."

During his talk, Sgt. Madden stated that he was against the war going into Iraq, and against the war when he came out of Iraq. When he was stationed in Quantico, Va., he and a fellow soldier came up with the idea of starting the petition after reading about a similar effort during the Vietnam War in David Cortright's Soldiers in Revolt.

Madden called the petition less radical than he would have liked, but stressed the importance for him of keeping things legal and above-board.

His inspiration from those who disobeyed the Vietnam War, was evident. Referring to the film, he said, "These are the guys who stopped a war. If you look at how things change it's almost always through struggle: Slavery, women's suffrage the eight-hour day, these are all things that were fought for and we need to remember that in this struggle today."

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Fight LA police violence
By Danielle Heck

LOS ANGELES--Three incidents of police brutality surfaced over the course of just one week last month, revealing the rampant dehumanization and harassment that is perpetrated by the notorious LA Police Department (LAPD) primarily against people of color and the poor.

The first incident to break into the news was a stomach-churning video, initially posted on the You Tube Web site in November. The video reveals the raw brutality of the police and drew immediate comparisons to the 1991 beating of Rodney King.

Many communities expressed their outrage after seeing the horrifying footage of two white police officers from the Hollywood division of the LAPD, Patrick Farrell and Alexander Schlenge, hold William Cardenas, 24, down on the ground as they punched him several times in the face.

The second video, shot in 2005 on the Venice boardwalk and made public November 13, shows an LAPD officer dousing a handcuffed homeless man, Benjamin Barker, with pepper spray as he sat in a patrol car.

The most recent outrageous example of abuse involves UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad being Tasered several times by campus police. Activists in LA are meeting to plan their response.

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Solidarity with Palestine

INTERNATIONAL PALESTINE Solidarity Week, November 9-16, was marked by campus events across the U.S.

-- At Hunter College in New York City, more than 40 people attended a meeting sponsored by the Campus Antiwar Network entitled "Breaking the Silence" to hear the truth about Israel's occupation.

The event featured Israeli soldier Guy Grossman and Palestinian human rights activist Lubna Hammad. Having served in the Israeli army, Grossman described the humiliating and brutal treatment of the Palestinians, including one instance when a group of soldiers brutally tortured a 15-year-old boy.

Grossman argued that the occupation was not in Israel's interest, while Lubna Hammad argued that Zionism itself is a racist, colonial-settler ideology and that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is an extension of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 which created the state of Israel.

Two weeks earlier there was a lively debate on campus between the Palestinian Club and the Hunter Israeli Public Affairs Club which brought out over 70 students to hear about conflicting interpretations of the conflict in the Middle East. The Israeli club floundered with no facts to back up their side up, instead relying on racist justifications for Israel's war and occupation.

-- At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., about a dozen people stood in the freezing cold on Saturday outside of a Fair Trade Festival to hold a picket showing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The small but energetic group held signs which read "Occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine," "Tear down the wall!" and "End the siege," Many people were eager to sign a petition calling on Israel to end the siege, lift the sanctions and, for the U.S. to stop funding Israel's war against Palestinians.

The next day, Mohammed Omer, an award-winning Gazan journalist on his first U.S. speaking tour, gave a firsthand account of life under the brutal occupation.

Frankie Cook and Noah Callagan contributed to this report.

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Oaxaca solidarity
By Brian Huseby

OLYMPIA, Wash.--Approximately 80 people rallied here November 19 in support of protesters in the Mexican state of Oaxaca--where a teachers' strike that has been attacked by police has spurred a much broader struggle that is still going on.

In Olympia, demonstrators gathered for a rally at a downtown park, and later marched several blocks to the state capitol, where they demanded that Gov. Christine Gregoire support unconditional amnesty for all undocumented immigrants.

"We came to inform people of what is happening in Oaxaca," protester Irene Herrera told Socialist Worker. "The main demand of the Oaxacan people is that the governor resign. People need to fight the system and the people of Oaxaca need to resist. People have been stepped on for so many years that there is no going back."

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