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News and reports

April 20, 2007 | Pages 14 and 15

Make Washington, D.C., a sanctuary city
Defend Norman Finkelstein
Fire Don Imus
Protest the CIA

Make Washington, D.C., a sanctuary city
By Jon Bougie

WASHINGTON--At a press conference announcing a May 1 immigrant rights rally, activists called for Washington, D.C., to become a sanctuary city that would refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The April 10 press conference, called by the D.C. Committee for Immigrant Rights (DCCIR), Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, the Metro D.C. Interfaith Sanctuary Network and the Latino Media Collective, was held mostly in Spanish and attracted media from CNN, Univision and Telemundo, as well as several print and radio media outlets.

The speakers stood behind a banner reading, "¡Alto a los deportaciones! Stop the deportations!" and condemned the ICE raids that have been terrorizing immigrant communities. They also stated that proposed guest-worker programs in reality represent further attacks on immigrant workers.

"We have a whole generation living in fear. This is immoral, undignified and unjust," said Sonia Umanzor of DCCIR.

In addition to calling for full legalization and a halt to raids and deportations nationwide, the May 1 action will be a part of an ongoing campaign to make Washington a sanctuary city. The rally is demanding that a sanctuary ordinance be passed in the District, which would bar public employees, city service providers and local governmental agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The May Day protest will be called in solidarity with actions around the country, organized on the first anniversary of last year's massive protests and on a day celebrated around the world as International Workers' Day.

Emphasizing the importance of last year's mobilization in stopping the draconian anti-immigrant bill HR 4437, speakers cited the big April 7 demonstration in Los Angeles as a step forward for the movement.

Noberto Martinez of the Latino Media Collective said that justice can come only with full legalization "sin condiciones, sin deportacions"--without conditions or deportations--and that the demonstrations this year will play a key role in standing against the new round of attacks.

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Defend Norman Finkelstein
By Tristan Brosnan and Kathryn Weber

THE STRUGGLE to defend DePaul University Professor Norman Finkelstein's fight for tenure continues, with students gathering petition signatures and planning the next steps in their campaign of support.

Finkelstein is a political science professor, author and outspoken supporter of Palestinian liberation. Though students regularly give him outstanding reviews as a professor, and he was recently recommended for tenure by both DePaul's Political Science Department and the College Personnel Committee, Dean Chuck Suchar filed a report that doesn't support his application for tenure.

On April 13, Finkelstein had a tenure hearing before the University Board. A large group of student supporters turned out, lining the hallway with handmade signs and cheering when Finkelstein entered and exited the meeting. The board's decision should be made known sometime before April 19, and then reviewed by Dr. Helmut Epp, the university's provost.

Students at DePaul are now planning to continue gathering signatures in the DePaul Student Center, and to present Epp with the petition before he issues his final report in May.

In addition to DePaul, Finkelstein has received backing from students and members of the academic community in other parts of the country.

On April 11, the Palestinian Action Coalition and the UMass Antiwar Coalition brought Finkelstein to speak at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. More than 400 students, professors and community members turned out, making the event the largest gathering of the pro-Palestinian left in recent years.

Visit or to sign the petitions in support of Norman Finkelstein. E-mail [email protected] with letters of support.

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Fire Don Imus
By Deepa Kumar

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.--Several hundred people rallied in support of the Rutgers University women's basketball team, which was the subject of racist and sexist insults by radio talk show host Don Imus.

Chanting "We want justice, we want peace, Imus should no longer speak," the protesters sent the message that Imus needed to be fired for calling the players "nappy-headed hos." The rally took place before MSNBC dropped Imus, and CBS eventually fired him.

Initially, Imus was given only a two-week suspension. "I call his punishment a two-week vacation, because he will come back and continue his radio show, and continue to be a racist, narrow-minded individual," said Adebayo Satoya, president of the university's Black Men's Collective organization.

There was a strong mood at the rally that racist and sexist bigots have been given a pass for too long, and that it was important to challenge them. Jocelyn Thompson, a Rutgers student, told Socialist Worker, "It's not just Imus who says these things. We want to send a message that racism will no longer be tolerated. Ever." Chidimma Acholonu, president of the university's NAACP chapter, said, "This is not a battle against one man, it's a battle against a way of thought."

History professor Deborah White, who spoke at the rally on behalf of Black faculty at Rutgers, said that while she herself was not much of an activist, this incident represented an important "moment for the nation to take stock of racism and misogyny." No doubt many of the people who attended the rally had never been to a demonstration before and were galvanized by this incident.

As Satoya said, "We hope that people from different cultures and races...organize as a collective group to have this racist individual fired from his job." The next day, Imus was canned--and Satoya's hope realized.

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Protest the CIA
By Martin Smith, Iraq Veterans Against the War

URBANA, Ill.--On the heels of activism against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruitment at Chicago's Northeastern Illinois University, students from the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) have organized more protests against the complicity of schools in legitimizing "career options" in assassinations, coup-d'etats and torture.

On April 9, CAN held a counter-recruitment event against the CIA's "information session" at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, passing out fact sheets about the agency's sordid history and holding signs that read "End torture" and "CIA not welcome."

The CIA's recruitment literature echoes the same duplicitous lies and false promises used by military recruiters.

"Are you motivated? Do you have what it takes? Be a part of a mission that's larger than all of us," it reads. "National Clandestine Service careers offer fast-paced, varied work environments that will challenge you to find innovative solutions to complex problems, to travel internationally and to use existing or new language skills in ways that will make a positive difference to you, your family and your country."

Preying on college students in need of work, the CIA's claims of promising travel and a challenging career path mask the true purpose of its mission.

The CIA is the U.S. empire's front line in the training of death squads throughout the Third World, particularly in Latin America, and now in Iraq. It is responsible for the overthrow of democratically elected governments that oppose U.S. interests, and for "extraordinary rendition"--the transferring of suspected "terrorists," mostly Arab and Muslim men, to secret prisons in other countries known for committing human rights violations.

Such barbaric deeds are a gross violation of international and U.S. constitutional law, and are crimes against humanity.

That is why activists should be prepared to confront the CIA whenever it appears on our campuses. We must not allow our schools to be used as recruiting grounds for the so-called "war on terror," and university officials must be held accountable for the giving the green light to agents of butchery, sabotage and torture.

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