Revolutionary Worker #1177, December 1, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
Wednesday, November 20, was the Not In Our Name National Student/Youth Day of Action Against the War. In New York City, thousands of high school and college students walked out of classes and marched down Broadway. Photos of this exciting action made it into newspapers around the country. And there were other student/youth actions in different cities.
As we go to press, the Not In Our Name Project website (www.notinourname.net) says that reports on the Nov. 20 actions are coming in from the different areas. The following are some brief initial reports from the NION Project and from our correspondents.
New York City
From a report on the NION Project website and NYC Indymedia:
Here at "Ground Zero" thousands of New York City high school and college students gathered in solidarity to say "NO, NOT IN OUR NAME" to the war on Iraq. Over 2,000 strong, the youth took the entire street of Broadway. We did this in the face of threats from administration, campus security that tried to block them at the doors, talk of suspension, and all kinds of other wack shit. We rallied at Union Square, till our numbers swelled so much we just HAD to take it to the streets. The cops said we could have University Place--but as we all shouted out together as we did it: "We're taking fucking Broadway!!!" And then we did! As one of the MCs said, "We took Union Square without a permit. We marched down fucking Broadway without a permit. We permitted ourselves to take history into our own hands!"
MAAAAD students and youth on the busiest street in downtown! To anyone who thought we would keep our mouths shut, sit in class and let this war be waged in our names, to all those who said it couldn't be done...This is what we have to say to you! This war is not going to happen in our names! The detentions and round-ups of our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters is not going to happen in our names! This war on the world and the shredding of civil liberties is not going to happen in our names! In fact, we are going to prevent it from happening at all!!! And this is the just the beginning.
We moved to Washington Square Park and held a HOT rally, fists in the air. Students talked about why they came out--why they weren't intimidated. One student pointed to a playground on the other side of the park. She said, "Look at all those innocent little children playing. If they were in Iraq they could be dead in a few days. We are not going to let that happen!" Another student came up and said, "This goes out to my principal who threatened me with suspension. FUCK YOU!!! You are not in danger of being drafted. I AM!!! And I am not going to sit in your fucking school and be intimidated by you!"
A Vietnam veteran got up and spoke about why he resisted that war and in 1971 threw his medal back at the White House. Afterwards a group of NYU students got up and gave their response to a preemptive war and led the crowd in burning their "preemptive draft cards." The NYU Peace Coalition brought a contingent of 1,000 students.
The whole day was characterized by the determination of our generation to not go along and let the future get stolen by a "bunch of cowboys in the White House." Speakers exposed the detentions and disappearances of immigrants, the plans to have high schools and colleges turn over people's information to the FBI and military recruiters. Together we took the Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance, fists in the air! We promised to ourselves and to the people of the world that with every escalation and war move from the Asses of Evil, we're gonna meet it with escalating Resistance!
As people marched, they chanted: "Tapping our phones, reading our mail, the FBI should go to jail!" "You say it's for the people, you say it's to be free, but we are the people, don't fight this war for me!" "They want us silent, they want us tame, this war on Iraq is not in our name!" "The students and the youth, stand up, rise up! With the people of the world, stand up, rise up!"
WHAT A FUCKING AWESOME DAY!!!
From a supporter of Revolution Books in New York City who took part in the action:
A white 14-year-old student from the High School of Environmental Studies said, "People need to realize that by starting wars with other countries, we endanger ourselves, even though the main point is all the innocent Iraqi lives." He said that about 14 students walked out, even though the principal announced over the loudspeaker that it was unsafe to go (teachers were OK with the walkout, and one was even supportive).
Groups of students had walked out from different high schools to come to the march, often facing threats of suspension. A 14-year-old Black woman from LaGuardia, a performing arts high school, said she came off of a discussion in class. "Since it's going to be our generation, we have to stand up against it [the war]." She said that over 75 people from her school had walked out, and that more would have come to the march if it wasn't midterm week. Other LaGuardia students told me that the school threatened to give a zero to anyone who walked out of a midterm exam to come to the rally.
At Bard High School, an alternative school in Manhattan, 50 to 60 students walked out of a total student body of about 500. A 14-year-old Black woman from Bard told me, "I walked out because this war is just for oil and profit and all these innocent people in Iraq are gonna get killed."
A group of New York City high school and college students wrote a letter to teachers, to be placed in teachers' mailboxes on the morning of Nov. 20. The letter said in part:
Some of us have been working with the Not In Our Name Project and some just found out about it. All of us are united in our struggle against the war on Iraq proposed by the U.S. government, and today, November 20, we are walking out of school to show our dissent.
This is not a protest against your classes or our schools. This is not a show of disrespect for what you have to teach us. Rather, we are walking out because we feel it is something we have to do. As students, as youth, as the people who will have to live in this world long after the current government is gone, we know that it is not enough to show up at protests on weekends and then go to school on Monday, acting as though nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Something out of the ordinary is going on, and it is our duty to do our best to stop it. We have to resist--we cannot allow normalcy to continue here when normalcy does not exist in Iraq. It is not enough to sit in math class while members of our generation die across the ocean. We have sat in meetings, we have discussed, we have listened, and we have realized that we must be heard. This is a matter of dire urgency. Within months 250,000 U.S. ground troops can be expected to arrive in Iraq, and we cannot let this happen as we sit silent. The people of the world are being murdered by the masses, in our names, and they need us in the street today.
In Columbus, Ohio,the NION group called for a student walk-out, rally, and march on the Ohio State University campus. Students from Case Western Reserve University and others rallied and did a die-in in downtown Cleveland.
A correspondent in Los Angeles reports:
Like many things in L.A., the National Student/Youth Day of Action began with the morning commute: "War Is Not the Answer" banners, each painted with a huge, bright globe, hung over some of L.A.'s busiest freeways.
Around the city, students from at least 15 college and high school campuses had prepared for the day. At Venice High, a NION organizer said that students getting off the buses that morning hesitated at first when they saw the banners in front of their school that said, "No War in Iraq! Not In Our Name!" But when they saw their principal harassing the youth who were holding the banners, many of the students grabbed up copies of the NION Pledge of Resistance and anti-ROTC/anti-draft stickers and took them inside the school.
In the immigrant neighborhood of Pico-Union, initial reports from Belmont High say that about 100 students wore the anti-ROTC/anti-draft stickers inside the school.
At some schools, students tabled on campus. At one high school, when a teacher overheard a student being denied permission to table, she invited the student to come speak to her class about NION and the resistance movement.
At USC, a group of students held banners and read the Pledge of Resistance. At Cal State Northridge, students and youth held a die-in in the school's central courtyard as part of an antiwar rally. A very diverse group of students took the Pledge together at noon. A young woman from Guadalajara, Mexico, told the RW , "This is just a very important thing that all of us as the students have to do. We have to express how we feel about all this situation. I like the end of [the Pledge] the most because it says, `justice, freedom, and peace.' Another world is possible for sure. We are the young, and we are the people who have hope right now. We will not stop."
In the San Francisco Bay Area , students at University of California Berkeley got out thousands of "Not In Our Name" stickers; SF State students did a drum circle; University of SF students held campus events. Dozens of students protested outside a Marine recruitment center near the SF City College campus, and eight were detained by police.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported: "Sonoma County high school and college students walked out of classes Wednesday to protest a possible war against Iraq, part of a national demonstration for peace. About 300 students gathered to listen to speeches and sing protest songs at Sonoma State University. Three hundred high school students marched to Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square. Police stopped an attempted sit-in at the military recruiting offices... Smaller protests occurred on other high school campuses, including Analy High School in Sebastopol and Petaluma High School. The rallies and marches were part of a national Student Day of Resistance initiated by Not In Our Name."
According the NION Project website, 30 students from the U.S. held a "Pas en notre nom" protest in Paris, France.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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