“I’ve been angry for many, many years about our administration and so have lots of youth. I’m really frustrated, for one, because I can’t vote for President or legislators, but I can make a stand for what I believe in.”
– Amy Englesberg, 17 year-old high school senior (Bellingham Herald)
In Seattle on November 16, over 500 students took a bold stand against the war in Iraq and military recruitment in schools. Students from over 30 high schools and nearly 10 universities and colleges walked out of classes at noon and converged at Westlake Center for a mass rally and march.
The Seattle walkout was part of a national student walkout on November 16 called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) and a coalition of antiwar organizations in coordination with the national Iraq Moratorium protests. Socialist Alternative also played a major role in organizing these walkouts. Students organized walkouts in at least 8 cities or counties: Brattleboro (Vermont), Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Whatcom County, and Lewis County.
The Seattle walkout drew students from numerous towns and suburbs: Shoreline, Everett, Kenmore, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah, Renton, Bremerton, Bellingham, Anacortes, and Belfair.
In Minneapolis/St. Paul, 700-900 students organized a walkout. According to “The Olympian,” 300-400 students from South Puget Sound Community College and Capital high schools organized a walkout in Olympia. The “Bellingham Herald” reported that around 100 Ferndale and Windward high school students walked out of classes and marched through Bellingham. On November 15, Tacoma high school students and Socialist Alternative organized a walkout of nearly 100 students.
These walkouts received an impressive amount of coverage in the mass media, reaching thousands of ordinary working people, soldiers, and military families with our message. Please check out all the media reports and video links below!
The Seattle walkout was incredibly powerful, spirited, and energetic. Students played the lead role in organizing, speaking, and playing music at the rally, as well as leading the march.
For the vast majority of high school students who came, this was their first protest, and they all came with passion and energy. One student from Seattle Central Community College noted that this was her first protest and captured how empowering the walkout was for young people when she said, “I’ve never felt so important.”
Julia Weller was quoted in the Seattle P-I saying, “A lot of people at school say, ‘It will not make a difference,’ ‘It’s not worth it,’ ‘I can learn things at school.'” However, Masyn Vaillancourt, a fourth-grader protesting outside her elementary school with other 9-year old friends, said: “A lot, a lot, a lot of people die in war. I think if more people participate in doing this, we wouldn’t have war anymore.” (The Olympian)
Numerous adults, parents, and teachers also came out in support, many who were truly inspired to see a new generation of youth taking a bold stand and speaking from the stage with well researched facts about the costs of the war in lives and resources. Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first officer in the country to refuse to fight in Iraq after he was inspired by the student walkout YAWR organized in 2005. Student activists organized this walkout to embolden even more students, workers, soldiers and military families to stand up and refuse to cooperate with this war.
Supporters of the war argue that we should not protest the war because we are not supporting the troops and we are being unpatriotic. However, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, some of whom had been injured in Iraq, spoke at the rally from personal experience about how the best way to support the troops is to get them out of Iraq immediately and out of harm’s way. Over 3,800 U.S. soldiers and 1,000 private military contractors have been killed in Iraq, and over 20,000 soldiers have been injured, not to mention that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have been killed.
Reverend Robert Jeffrey from the New Hope Church gave the most rousing, eloquent speech about the injustice of the government spending over $500 billion on the Iraq war while working people and people of color struggle to pay for basic needs like food, housing, and healthcare. Philip Locker, a Socialist Alternative member and walkout organizer, spoke about how the Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress a year ago on a surge of antiwar sentiment and how we need to build an independent mass movement to force Congress to use its control over the budget to stop passing bills that give President Bush billions of dollars to continue the war.
Aaron Dixon, the co-founder of the Seattle Black Panther Party, spoke about the need for people of all races to unite against this war and racism. Dixon ran for U.S. Senate in 2006 as an independent Green Party antiwar candidate against Washington’s Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell who supports the war.
Unfortunately, some students faced threats of discipline and suspension from school administrators and parents for walking out of school. At one high school on the east side of Seattle, administrators even asked teachers to schedule tests and quizzes on the day of the walkout in order to make it more costly for students to participate in the walkout. But as Congress prepares to approve yet another $70 billion of funding for the war, students were determined to have their voices heard.
As Kristin Ebeling, a YAWR activist from the University of Washington, put it: “Making this statement is more important that any math problem we will ever do. It’s up to us to say, no, we don’t want our generation in Iraq. We want them home, going to college, getting jobs, [we] want them to get social services. We don’t want to spend money on this war–spend it on education and books and teachers.”
After the rally, students marched through downtown energetically shouting chants like “books not bombs!” shutting down the streets in the central business district.
In the weeks before the protest, the police had refused to issue us a permit to march to 23rd Ave where a military recruiting station is located. However, we insisted that it was our right to march to the military recruiting station as part of our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Ultimately, we succeeded in forcing the police to back down, which made the march much more meaningful and effective. The military recruiting station is located in Seattle’s Central District, a traditionally African American neighborhood that is being gentrified by large corporations and real estate developers who are moving in, buying up land, and building expensive condominiums while providing few living-wage jobs. We rallied outside the military recruiting station to demand that the government create living-wage jobs and increase funding for education instead of sending military recruiters into our schools and communities with exaggerated promises of college financial aid and future careers.
We chanted “Hey recruiters, we’re no fools! Get your lies out of our schools!” and “Stop, stop, stop recruiting the poor! Fight the rich, not their wars!”
The recruiting station was barricaded off by the police, so we succeeded in shutting it down for the day.
STUDENTS’ RIGHTS AND NEXT STEPS:
If you or any other students face discipline for walking out of school, please contact us immediately. We can mobilize hundreds of antiwar activists to protest your school authorities with emails and phone calls to protect your right to participate in this act of mass civil disobedience. Please forward this email to any students who may have faced any discipline.
All in all, the student walkout was a positive, successful step toward turning the overwhelming public sentiment against the war into a more active, visible opposition in the streets. However, in order to end this war, we need to show the ruling class in this country that millions of students, workers, and soldiers will no longer allow “business as usual” to continue while they kill thousands of Iraqis and Americans just so they can control Middle East oil supplies.
We need every single person to question these injustices and make a decision to get politically active and join us in building a powerful mass movement from below to end this war. If you want to organize an antiwar club, a teach-in, or a protest when military recruiters show up at your school, please click on the “join” link at the top of this page, write us a note about your interests, and we will contact you.
Many thanks to all those students, teachers, parents and the following endorsing organizations who made this walkout a success! Socialist Alternative, Lake Washington HS Peace Club, Nova HS Peace and Justice Club, Nathan Hale HS Peace Club, Seattle Central Community College Anti War Collective, Green Party of WA State, CODEPINK, American Friends Service Committee, Team Victory, Stand Up Seattle!, Philippine-US Solidarity Organization and BAYAN-USA (Pinay sa Seattle, AnakBayan Seattle, and Arts Kultural Seattle), Anti-Racist Action LA/People Against Racist Terror, Loose Change, Human Earth Animal Liberation, Freedom Socialist Party, Palestine Solidarity Committee-Seattle Chapter, Jewish Voice for Peace-Seattle, The Exile Project (a Musical Theatre Performance exploring the Prison Industrial Complex), Seattle Radical Women
KING 5/ Northwest Cable News
Tacoma News Tribune
4. PHOTOS FROM STATE CAPITOL PROTEST
5. TRANSCRIPTS OF TV REPORTS
Anti-war protesters target recruiting offices in Tacoma
TACOMA — Anti-war activists gathered for a demonstration outside the military recruiting station near the Tacoma Mall on Thursday night.
The protest has become an annual event, but this year’s event takes on new importance due to the violence encountered at the anti-war protests in Olympia this week.
With two huge military installations just a stone’s throw away across the freeway, the protesters, many of whom were young, decided to target the small storefront recruiting offices for the demonstration.
Whether it’s on the streets of Seattle, the port entrance to Olympia or at military recruiting offices in Tacoma, the message is the same — end the fighting in Iraq, bring the troops home. More specifically, the young demonstrators want the military recruiters out of their schools.
“I lost someone really close to me in the war and ever since then, I can’t support it,” said Stephan Breazile, a teenage protester.
Two counter-demonstrators stood a distance away.
“They’re protesting. I’m here to support the troops,” said Tineke Geringer.
Inside the Army recruiting office, it was business as usual for those trying to bring in new recruits to replenish the all-volunteer Army.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Kelley said the protests have not hurt their recruiting efforts.
Kelley recently served with the 3rd Stryker Brigade when it first deployed to Iraq.
“My thoughts on them showing up, coming out of the infantry unit is they’re pretty much acting on the rights that we protect for them,” he said.
Kelley said he has no problems with the protests as long as they remain civil.
No one was arrested in Tacoma on Thursday.
The protest came on the eve of the National Student Walkout, the organizers of which are urging students to walk out of their classrooms at noon on Friday and join an anti-war demonstration at Seattle’s Westlake Park at 1 p.m.
Hundreds of students walk out, march in protest of war
SEATTLE — From Tukwila to Bellingham, students across Western Washington walked out of class at noon on Friday in protest of the war in Iraq.
The students said when the war is over, they’re the ones who will have to pay for years to come.
In Seattle, hundreds rallied and marched through downtown, tying up traffic in an attempt to make sure their voices are heard.
What started with a small crowd an amplified chants at Judkins Park evolved into a mass humanity with a unified voice.
“Making this statement is more important that any math problem we will ever do,” said Kristin Ebeling. “It’s up to us to say, no, we don’t want our generation in Iraq. We want them home, going to college, getting jobs, want them to get social services. We don’t want to spend money on this war. Spend it on education and books and teachers.”
Some of the gathered students were too young to shave, but they said they’re old enough to make up their minds.
“This is the only way i can get my point across, really. Get my friends out here. It’s really the only way I can show what I want to have happen in politics, really,” said Simon Wolf.
The youth movement that moved through the city streets focused on the future beyond the day when the troops would come home. The group said they want to show the country what the generation can do.
By the time the students began their march from Westlake Center, their message matured and resonated with older protesters.
“This is their country. And this is their future in this country. So they have a lot to be passionate about,” said protester Charlotte Krichter.
No arrests were made.
Students March To Protest Iraq War
An anti-war march is in progress in Seattle.
Students are rallying to protest the Iraq War and military recruiting.
About 100 people walked from Seattle Central Community College to a protest at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.
Another march started Friday afternoon from Westlake Park to Judkins Park on Capitol Hill.
Bicycle police are escorting the march, which is expected to cause traffic delays Friday afternoon.
Hundreds March In Seattle To Protest Iraq War
SEATTLE, Wash. — Several hundred protesters marched through Seattle streets Friday to protest the war in Iraq.
The march was peaceful and there were no arrests.
The marchers, mostly high school and college students, went from Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill to Westlake Park in downtown Seattle and then on to Judkins Park near the International District.
Police officers on bicycles escorted the marchers.
The protesters carried signs and chanted slogans such as “This is what democracy looks like!”
One sign read, “Money for education and jobs, not war.”
In Seattle’s Central District, the demonstrators staged a brief sit-in in front of a military recruiting office, which was closed.
The march was organized by local members of Youth Against War and Racism, a student-led group.
A Seattle Public Schools spokesman said the district did not condone students walking out of class to attend the march. Each school would determine whether students would suffer consequences.
In August, the Seattle School Board approved new restrictions on recruiting on campuses. Recruiters, both military and non-military, are allowed two visits per school, per year, among other provisions.
YAWR is still several hundred dollars in debt from printing thousands of leaflets and posters, reserving parks for the rallies, and renting the sound system. We have no corporate or wealthy sponsors–we are building this movement among students and working-class folks who have few funds. Please help us get out of debt and move on to building even stronger and more powerful youth actions by:
1. Mailing a check payable to Youth Against War and Racism to:
1220 E Barclay Crt.
Seattle, WA, 98122
2. Making a donation online through Paypal:
Simply go to www.Paypal.com and select “Personal” on the top tabs, and then click “Send Money.” Our email address is email@example.com
Please forward this article to others who might be able to help. Thank you!