Salem College protests Blackwater crimes

January 11, 2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--Antiwar activists at Salem College, a small women's liberal arts college, organized a protest on January 6 in response to a federal judge's recent decision to dismiss charges against five Blackwater operatives.

Members of Salem AntiWar protested this injustice by laying in the center of the campus in order to represent the innocent people murdered by Blackwater personnel in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007.

Salem College has presented a challenge to the antiwar organizers in Salem AntiWar and its sister group, the Student Activist Movement. Some of the campus's many conservative students have threatened previous antiwar actions by sending hate mail and threats to organizers and deans of the college.

Before this protest, we posted a statement titled "Human Rights Are Not For Profit: Hold Blackwater Accountable." It explained:

The messages Judge Urbina has sent with the dismissal of this case--that war crimes are permissible and human lives expendable in the pursuit of profit and that the Justice Department is happy to play an active role in the imperialist American war machine--is both dangerous and intolerable.

This is why we, the women of Salem AntiWar, take action. If an Iraqi citizen is expendable, then so are we. The Iraqi people are our brothers and sisters. To deny them basic human rights, to deny them their own voice is to deny our own humanity. It's to implicate ourselves in the war crimes of this government and its companies/contractors that enforce is hegemonic imperialist policies.

This protest was greeted much more favorably than past ones, in what we hope is a shift in the attitudes of the student body. Students were open to hearing our message. Our group also gained several new members, and one non-member even joined the protest right then and laid down on the pavement with us.

We are hoping to soon be able to expand the operations of Salem AntiWar beyond the campus and downtown area as our numbers continue to grow, including fostering and coordinating with other city campuses. We also plan to expand our blog into print. We are also organizing, in coordination with the Student Activist Movement, a festival of activist art in early March.

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