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News and reports

March 30, 2007 | Pages 14 and 15

No to war and occupation
Stop the anti-immigrant ICE raids
Abolish the death penalty

No to war and occupation

BOSTON--Led by Veterans for Peace, more than 4,000 protestors marched through the downtown streets here March 24 to demand an end to the war in Iraq. The demonstration, called by the Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition, was the largest in Boston since the war began four years ago.

The protest began with a rally at the Boston Commons addressed by radical historian Howard Zinn and Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Zinn demanded that Congress immediately cut spending for the war, insisting that "There is only one timetable for withdrawal, and that is to get the troops out as fast as ships and planes can carry them."

Sheehan blasted Democrats in the House of Representatives for passing an appropriations bill that funds the war until September 2008. The night before, Sheehan told a crowd of nearly 200 that "there is only one party in the United States," and called for a "second American Revolution."

While some demonstrators expressed continued support for congressional Democrats, others agreed with Sheehan that "the Democrats have failed us." Andy Sapp of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) told Socialist Worker, "This House bill is an act of cowardice on the part of Democrats. It looks good on the outside, but is rotten in the inside."

-- In Burlington, Vt., a week of protest marking the fourth year of the occupation of Iraq culminated March 24 with an antiwar rally outside City Hall and march that brought out 400 people. About 100 students and faculty members marched from the University of Vermont campus with chants like "Cut the funding end the war! What the hell is Congress for?"

Mark Hague from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel said in a speech, "Israel and the U.S. speak the same language of imperialism." The biggest cheers were for the six members of IVAW who came from all across the region, including active duty GIs.

-- In Olympia, Wash., approximately 450 people attended an antiwar rally and march here March 24.

IVAW member Jeff Englehart told the crowd, "It's all about corporate control of oil in the Middle East. It's not worth the infringement of civil liberties of the citizens of Iraq and the citizens of the United States."

The rally was followed by a march that passed by the offices of different social service agencies. "We wanted to show the cost of the war, both in human lives and dollars, and what could be done with that money" said Larry Mosqueda, one of the march organizers.

The march ended with a second rally at the Port of Olympia, where activists successfully blocked a shipment of war materials to Iraq in May of last year.

--In New York City, a group of 20 students protested March 22 against CIA recruiters at Hunter College. The CIA specified that it was seeking people fluent in Arabic, Farsi, Indonesian, Russian, Chinese and other languages.

The Campus Antiwar Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and Hunter College Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to send some people into the event, while others passed out flyers telling the truth about the CIA and chanted in support of the protesters inside.

Only about 25 students showed up to the event, along with 11 protesters. Students challenged the CIA recruiter over the agency's support for horrible dictatorships, its role in overthrowing democratically elected governments, and CIA-sponsored death squads in Central America.

Protesters were asked to leave if they didn't want to be escorted out. Outside the meeting, there was a lively chant of "Who's the terrorist? the CIA's the terrorist!"

Jonah Birch, Steve Ramey, Brian Huseby and Hannah Fleury contributed to this report.

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Stop the anti-immigrant ICE raids
By Sarah Knopp and Robert D. Skeels

LOS ANGELES--An enthusiastic and determined crowd gathered for an immigrant rights rally March 25 in Downtown's historic La Placita Olvera. Around 800 demonstrators demanded amnesty for all undocumented peoples and an immediate end to raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The event was timed to mark the anniversary of last year's "mega-march" in LA that overwhelmed the city center. This year, after several speakers addressed the immigrant rights movement's future, a large contingent of the Union Binacional de Trabajadores Ex-Braceros (Bi-national Union of Former Guest Workers) led a picket around the park.

"This is personal for me, since my husband doesn't have a green card," said one protester, Cristina Padilla. "He would have to leave for 10 years and come back. What am I supposed to do? Who would pay the rent while he was gone?

"I see a lot of racism. It's time to get people legalized, and not make them leave first. That's why I'm protesting, and I want to start helping out with the movement. Last year it was so new--now there's a lot of hard work to be done."

Demonstrators then marched several blocks to the federal building. Lively chants, including "La lucha obrero no tiene fronteras" (The worker's struggle has no borders), accompanied marchers along the way.

Protesters formed a picket line around the block containing the federal building, which was heavily guarded by armed ICE agents. At the closing rally, speakers exhorted all present to keep organizing for May Day protests.

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Abolish the death penalty
By David May

BALTIMORE--More than 30 anti-death penalty activists came out March 24 to protest the Supermax prison that houses Maryland's death row in the wake of the Maryland legislature's recent failure to repeal the death penalty.

The mood was upbeat as activists picketed the prison, raising their voices with chants of "They say 'death,' we say 'no,' take Vernon Evans off death row," repeating the chant with each name of the other four men still on Maryland's death row.

Among their numbers were family members and supporters of death row prisoner Evans. Lawrence Hayes, who served time on New York's death row for his activism and membership in the Black Panther Party, also addressed the crowd. "Hopefully, it will one day be recognized that we brought humanity one step closer to civilization," said Hayes.

The momentum is clearly with the abolition movement in Maryland, which currently has a moratorium on executions.

"The issue of abolition is on the table, and the wind is at our backs," said Mike Stark of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Support for capital punishment is dropping around the nation, he said, so "we need to build our organizations, get more people to come to our meetings, and recognize that by organizing in this way we are having an impact."

Linda Evans, Vernon's mother, thanked the crowd for their efforts to save her son from execution. Terry Fitzgerald of the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty pointed out that of the 18 men who were on Maryland's death row several years ago, only three were executed. The death sentences of the majority were commuted "because of activists like us who made a real difference," he said.

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