Interview with L.A. High School Student
"We're Not Gonna Stop Until Bush Steps Down"
Revolution #024, November 27, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On November 2, thousands of high school students from over 30 schools in Los Angeles walked out of school and hit the streets in response to the call: "The World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime!" Many of the students joined with others from throughout the L.A. area in convergences along Wilshire Blvd. and in Westwood. The students often acted in the face of officials who locked down schools and threatened serious punishment. One student organizer, Geovany Serrano, was grabbed by school police, pepper-sprayed, and arrested for handing out flyers and organizing at Belmont High. He is now under house arrest.
Revolution interviewed a student organizer at Los Angeles High School, where almost the whole school walked out. The students at L.A. High are mainly from Black and Latino proletarian backgrounds.
Revolution: What happened at L.A. H.S.?
L.A. High student: We got out flyers and the stickers were really crucial. The stickers were all over the school--they were on the lockers, people were wearing them. People had them on their backpacks. . .
The administration was making P.A. announcements every day for a week warning students that if they walked out they would get tickets and get suspended and all these threats to get people scared about walking out. I was so mad. I thought about leaving the school and just going over to Wilshire and Crenshaw. I thought about it--and I said to myself that I couldnt let these people get away with it. . .
At first there were just a couple of people looking at us. Then more people started to gather. It started with two, then there were five, and then 20, and all of a sudden there was a mass of people gathering at that little gate. The principal and some other administrators came out and they were talking on another bullhorn and warning the students.
Another student told me that then, finally, they opened the gates because people were throwing stuff at the principal. People were so mad and so mad at the fact they were not letting them walk out.
My school is basically a jail, literally. We have no windows in the main building. None of the doors or the gates were open. It was really hard to get out. The only way to get out was through the front entrance and that was protected by security. The school had more security on that day because they knew people wanted to walk out. . .
About 700 or 800, I would say, walked out. There werent really people left in school. . .
When we were walking the streets were just filled with students. We were like three or four blocks long--city blocks. Those are pretty long. The police were there. They were supposedly there to escort us. At first they did and they closed the streets--major streets--in order for us to get through.
We were chanting all the way "The world cant wait--drive out the Bush regime!" It was great! It was four city blocks! I think everyone in that crowd felt great, like we can really make a change if we continue this and every single high school walks out demanding that he [Bush] step down. We marched for like two miles. No one left the crowd and took the bus to go somewhere else.
When we got to Crenshaw and Wilshire there were people there already. I loved the expression on their faces. I loved the expression on the faces of the adults when they saw all these youth come out--not just at that corner, but at the rally in Westwood, too . . .
The police, once we got to the corner, got really heavy. There was a helicopter on top of us, and there was about 40 or 50 police officers on their motorcycles. They were parked right in front of us and they were parked on the side of us. That was really intimidating to some students. . .
Revolution: Earlier you said that you feel that its "our responsibility" to take this up. What do you mean?
L.A. High student: Well, I kept stressing that this is our right, but not just that. This is our responsibility. Take a look at the times that were living in right now. These are very very dangerous times. We have this capitalist society that we live in, but not only that. We have a capitalist society being run by these Christian fundamentalists that want to turn this country into a theocracy. . .
Look at what happened in Katrina. They have a genocidal plan in store for Black people, poor people basically. I think Katrina really showed us the social and racial discrimination thats going on and characterizes this country as a whole.
We are youth and we have to take this up because we dont see any Democrats doing anything. The so-called liberals arent doing anything at all to stop this regime. If we dont do anything this is going to end really bad. Thats what will happen if we dont do anything at all.
I say our responsibility because if we dont act right now, it will be too late tomorrow. If we dont act now it will definitely be too late two years from now. I dont know if we are even going to be able to do this in a couple of years. The whole Bush regime is out to remake society. . .
I mean they [the Bush regime] are legalizing torture. Theyre actually preventing women [from having abortions] and telling them that they are going to go back to being incubators. Were going back to the Stone Ages here.
Theyre even attacking the fundamental things of the Constitution--and what its "supposed to" mean. Theyre out to remake society and remake the Constitution. Weve had problems with the system before, but this is different. This is more dangerous because theres this group of Christian fundamentalists running things.
Revolution: Youve mentioned that you've participated in a walkout before. You went from being a participant to being someone who led their school in the biggest walkout in L.A. How have you changed?
L.A. High student: Ive changed a lot actually. Ive changed the way I think--everything. I had to change myself and step back to look at life--and what I am doing to make this a better world. . . . I had to step back and look at myself. I changed my ideologies and I changed my perspective of the world and how things are being run in this country.
Ive always tried to keep up with things that are going on, but since I joined the World Cant Wait and became an organizer I started to read more about whats going on. Now Im using more critical thinking to analyze things. I have to think of what can actually be done to change the times that were living in. I want to get rid of this regime, but by myself I cant do that. We need masses. I think thats what the World Cant Wait is about--its about getting the masses to get rid of this regime.
Revolution: What has been your experience struggling with students and winning them over to take this up?
L.A. High student: There are some people who are against you and think that things are fine how they are and that you should just leave it alone. I think that you have to make people realize whats going on. You have to show people the gruesome pictures of whats happening in Iraq and what happened in Katrina--only someone who has no heart and doesnt care about other people can look away from the people who are going through all of this. We have to explain to people whats going on and answer their questions. . .
I think the biggest thing has been people asking, if we do succeed in driving out Bush from power--what happens after? At first I asked myself that too.
But to just think about what it would mean to get him out--what would that mean for the whole world and the society. After that, we would have an organization thats so well organized. Were making people aware and making people see that we have the power to change things. This is huge.
November 2 was great, but its not over. This is the beginning of the end, like the Call said. Were not gonna stop until Bush steps down. And after that we still have to continue and try to make society better. The world cant wait until this is a better society. A lot of people are sick and tired of how things are going.
There are other questions [people have] too. Like Geovany, look at what theyre doing to him, theyre trying to make an example out of him and make an excuse in order to tell the students that if they do the same thing [organize to drive out Bush] the same thing is going to happen to them or worse, like end up in jail. This is a message to the students and a message to the parents. . .
There are some students who say that they dont want to get into this because they dont want to put themselves in danger. But Ive told them "screw that!" If they are going to give us a ticket or suspend us, then fine. Com'on, try to give it to us--what we are doing is fighting for our future.
Im fighting to change things. I dont like to live like this. We have to do something about this. We have to go against things that are wrong. We have to keep taking this up and we have to keep at the forefront of this whole movement. If the students are crushed then the movement will be crushed--I would hate to see that happen.
On November 2nd, I saw so many people like me that were out there. People who were screaming [to the Bush regime] we dont want you, we dont need you, STEP DOWN! Before I used to go to sleep wondering if I was the only one who thinks like this. If it was just me and the other organizers that are around. After the 2nd what keeps me awake is that there are so many of us that want to make a change.