The Socialist 28 June 2007
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USA: Protesters demand military recruiters out of schools
Below is a report of an anti-war action against military recruiters in school, which Socialist Alternative (CWI in US) played an important role in organising.
"WHAT DO we want? Recruiters out! When do we want it? Now!" chanted over 70 anti-war protesters, as we marched to the Seattle School Board meeting, on 20 June.
Philip Locker, Dylan Simpson, and Marianne Mork
The spirited protest, called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), demanded the school board finally take real action against military recruitment in our schools. As the local TV news, 'King 5', said, it was "intended to be political high theatre, and it certainly was effective." Another reporter commented: "It was the most dramatic anti-military recruitment rally to date."
YAWR is calling for military recruiters to be banned from Seattle public schools. But to stay within the legal parameters of the "No Child Left Behind" law*, we are demanding that all recruiting be done at a district-wide recruitment fair, once a semester. This would create equity between the access to students that the military, college, and job recruiters have.
Currently, military recruiters have a massive budget and a huge advantage over college and job recruiters.
A district-wide recruitment fair would also stop military recruiters from carrying out their predatory tactics within our schools and disproportionate targeting of schools that are predominantly made up of poor and minority students.
Student activist, Kristin Ebeling, said: "Our public schools should not be military recruitment stations for the Iraq war. Instead of wasting $500 billion on a war for oil and empire, we need money for jobs and education."
High school students, teachers, parents and community activists rallied outside the school board for an hour. With the start of the meeting the rally moved inside, energetically chanting and sitting in at the front of the room.
To bring the reality of the war home, some students enacted a 'die-in', lying across the floor covered in blood, while the school board politicians huddled at the side of the room.
Addressing the board and the whole room, Shanay Salas and Ramy Khalil, from YAWR, explained our demands to restrict military recruiters.
We urged that the board amend its agenda for 10-15 minutes to discuss our proposed policy. Unfortunately, the board refused to discuss our policy, nor would they start the meeting until we ended the sit-in and moved away from the front of the room.
Since the board refused to listen to the public, we decided to continue the meeting and took public testimony from those who had already signed up to testify. A number of school bus drivers spoke about their struggle to unionise to overcome the terrible wages and conditions they face, which the board is refusing to support.
All the local TV news gave very prominent coverage to the protest. But to win we will need to keep up the pressure on the school board and build an organised, active anti-war movement.
This fall [autumn] YAWR is organising a major student walkout, which we are trying to spread nationally, to show that 'business as usual' will be forced to stop until the military is out of Iraq and out of our schools.
(*See relevant section of No Child Left Behind and our proposed policy at: http://groups.google.com/group/novapeaceclub)
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