High School students threatened with suspension for antiwar activity

URGENT Solidarity Appeal:

High School students threatened with suspension for antiwar activity

The following appeal was received by our sister party, socialist
, in the USA

*** Please call & email their District Superintendents RIGHT NOW
to support students free speech rights. Numbers are at bottom of the
letters from the affected students, below.

Brief background info:

Across the Twin Cities, thousands of students are planning to walkout
tomorrow, April 28th, against the war in Iraq and against military
recruitment in schools. This will likely be the largest youth antiwar
demonstration in Minnesota since the Vietnam era.

But in recent days reports of repression and disruption tactics from
school authorities has gone way up. Under police pressure, a big peace
concert scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, as part of the walkout events
at Minneapolis Technical and Community College (MCTC), is being shut

Below are two urgent appeals from students at two local schools
(Central and Jefferson) were threats against students came to a head
yesterday. Please read these, act on their request for solidarity, and
forward this appeal for help on to others.

Students from these schools are holding a press conference this
afternoon at MCTC’s "Free Speech Plaza" at 3:30 PM. Please
come and show your support!

Appeal from Jefferson High students

We are three students Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN. We
are being threatened with suspension for passing out fliers advertising
the April 28 walkout. We aren’t allowed to wear shirts that say
"I’m walking out for peace." We aren’t even allowed to SAY the
word walkout.

First we attempted to get posters a lit approved through official
ways. We got called in and told that advocating the walkout by
distributing any material or voicing any knowledge of it happening was
going to cause a disruption to the school learning environment.

We got a National Lawyers Guild lawyer to write a letter to our
principal explaining that Tinker vs. Des Moines gives us the right to
organize the walkout in school, but this made no difference. In our
meeting with the Principal today [4/26] their lawyer had given them a
response to the NLG letter, claiming that it does not fall under
protected free speech.

Our right to free speech and protest, as well as the rights of our
fellow Youth Against War and Racism chapter members, have been denied.
Basically we refuse to be censored for our right to practice our
political freedoms including telling people an event is going on. We
will continue to pass out leaflets and they will probably continue
confiscating or suspending people handing them out.

Here’s what we’d like for you to do: call our administration. Demand
that our rights are supported. Flood their offices with phone calls and
emails reminding them that teenagers are people with rights, because
they seem to have forgotten. The numbers are below.

Bloomington Schools Superintendent,

Gary Prest


[email protected]

Peace and Love,
Alex Uhrich, Libby Tousignant, Ben Zabel
Jefferson Youth Against War and Racism
Contact us at: [email protected]

Appeal from Central High Students

At St. Paul Central High School, our chapter of Youth Against War and
Racism has been planning for the antiwar walkout on Friday, April 28 in
solidarity with other Twin Cities YAWR chapters. We are protesting
against military recruiters in our schools as well as against the war as
a whole.

We have produced a variety of leaflets explaining our cause and
encouraging students to join us. Over the past week, we have begun to
pass the fliers out more intensely. As a result, our school
administrators and our principal, Mary Mackbee, have attempted to
prevent us from passing them out.

On Wednesday, April 26 before school, many of our fliers were
confiscated by Ms. Mackbee while they were being distributed. We were
told that we would be punished if they were found passing out any more
fliers. The school staff have been instructed to assign detention to any
student caught distributing fliers. Later in the day, when we attempted
to get back the fliers that had been confiscated, we were then told
that, if we were found passing out leaflets, we would be suspended for
"willful disobedience".

Our First Amendment rights cannot be ignored. Regardless of any
claims made by the school that we are under their supervision, our
fundamental democratic right to freedom of expression cannot be
abridged. The schools might claim that we are creating a disruption,
however a much greater disruption is being created for us by the
military recruiters in our schools and by the loss of funding that our
schools must deal with due to taxpayer money being spent on war instead
of education.

We cannot allow them to continue to prevent us from expressing
ourselves. For this reason, we ask that you help us to protect our
democratic freedom and our right to free expression.

We ask that you call or e-mail our District Superintendent, Lou
Kanavati, and demand that we be allowed to exercise our basic right to
expression and distribute antiwar fliers, brochures, or other documents
free of censorship or threats.

Superintendent Lou Kanavati


[email protected]

Thank you,
Sean Foltin and Shane Davis
Central High Youth Against War and Racism
Contact us at: [email protected]