RW ONLINE: Coast to Coast: Walkout Against the War
Coast to Coast: Walkout Against the War
Revolutionary Worker #1191, March 16, 2003, posted at rwor.org
"On March 5 the youth and students made history. I don't think ever before in
the history of this country has this kind of resistance been mounted before a
war starts by people this young. The youth have nothing to lose and everything
to gain. They dream of a better world and dare to bring that better world into
Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade member in S.F. Bay
On March 5, tens of thousands of students walked out at hundreds of high
school and college campuses around the country to say "NO!" to the U.S. war on
This day of protest and resistance was beautiful, powerful, and truly
Some media reports described the day as the largest school protests since the
March 5 was the day of the National Moratorium to Stop the War on Iraq,
called by a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to the war, and the
"Books Not Bombs" National Student Strike called by the National Youth and
Student Peace Coalition. The two calls converged into an incredible day of
action against the U.S. war.
From New York City to the West Coast cities to countless places in between,
people took action in diverse ways--quiet, loud, disruptive, and creative.
Religious people acted on their conviction to voice their opposition to Bush and
the war machine. People found different ways to express their anti-war stand at
But it was the youth, especially high school students, who really seized the
day. Over 70 high schools, middle schools, and colleges in the Los Angeles area
alone saw walkouts and other anti-war actions. In New York City, more than 3,000
high school students walked out of classes.
Some walkouts involved hundreds of students--in some cases a handful of
students bravely stepped forward. At some high schools, administrators,
teachers, and parents supported the kids who protested. At others, students
walked out in the face of threats and punishment from authorities.
At a time when the U.S. government is sending hundreds of thousands of young
men and women to the Persian Gulf to fight and die in an unjust and illegitimate
war--youth across the country demanded a different future,and took a
stand with the people of the world. And they were acting together with students
around the globe. There were reports of protests by students and others
throughout Australia, Canada, and England; in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain;
Paris, France; Damascus, Syria; Dakar, Senegal; and elsewhere.
At a time when the power structure is whipping up hatred against immigrants
and people of other countries, the sense of diversity and unity on March
5 was truly inspiring. A Black college student in Philadelphia said, "Everywhere
in the media and society they preach separation. But I look around and see all
of us, of different nationalities and different backgrounds, all here together.
This is beautiful."
And at a time when Bush and Company seem deaf to the expressed will of
millions around the U.S. and the world--the youth made clear their sense of
urgency and determination to stop the war.
In their own call for the March 5 Moratorium, two high school students in Los
As we stand facing the greatest terror this planet has ever seen, we must
rise as citizens of the world, united with one voice to say, `Not In Our Name.'
Over the past two months students have taken to the streets, walking out of
class, building a movement strong enough to affect the course of history. We
have been threatened with expulsions, suspensions, and detentions. But even in
the face of these consequences, we the youth refuse to sit by and watch America
deal its card of death to the world. There comes a time in everyone's life to
throw a wrench into the workings of injustice. This is our time."
The RW received the following reports on March 5 anti-war actions in
New York City
The following was reported by our correspondent Osage.
Many of the high school and college students who took part in the day
converged at noon at Union Square. Students came from Manhattan, Long Island,
Brooklyn, the Bronx, New Jersey--from about 30 different schools, both public
and private, and from fifth grade to college level. Some came with parents and
some with their teachers. The majority were middle and high school students, and
most of them had never been to a protest before.
To get there, they faced cynical teachers, lecturing principals, and threats
of lowered grades, suspension, and even expulsion. The principal at a Brooklyn
school announced over the loudspeaker the day before that walking out was
forbidden. When one student's mother called in to say that she gave her daughter
permission to walk out, the school threatened to report her to the Board of
A girl from a Catholic school in Westchester County skipped out on her Morals
and Ethics final because she just had to be at the rally. She said:
"Students need to get their priorities straight."
The crowd was bursting with excitement--loud cheers and absolute joy that we
had pulled this off. Students came in groups, doubling the attendance over and
over until we filled the square. Homemade signs were everywhere. One great sign
said "Friends Don't Let Friends Enlist."
Some 400 NYU students marched over from their rally to join us at Union
Square. The youth flooded the stage to speak out.
People expressed a variety of reasons for opposing the war: no blood for oil;
innocent Iraqi people would suffer; money being cut from schools to pay for war;
kids sent to kill and be killed for an unjust war. You could hear kids
discussing what kind of resistance is needed and how to get many more people
One of the most powerful speakers was a student of Uruguayan origin who
dropped some knowledge about what the U.S. is really about. He said many of his
father's friends had been "disappeared" in Uruguay in the 1970s for opposing a
U.S.-installed dictator: "I say `fuck off' to anyone who tells me they're
fighting [this war] for my freedom because if it was up to the U.S. government,
my dad would be dead."
Other speakers included Joe Urgo, with the Not In Our Name project, and Carl
Dix, National Spokesperson for the RCP--both Vietnam veterans. The ACLU's Donna
Lieberman, Youth Bloc, Ati from the RCYB, and several poets also took the
I saw a young man dressed in an ROTC uniform, standing at the back apart from
the crowd. He wasn't there to make a pro-war statement. He said he was 18 and
was not sure why he had joined the ROTC. He thinks many of the ROTC members in
his school do not want to go to war.
An 8th grader--a 13-year-old woman from an Upper East Side middle
school--told an RW reporter, "I lost an uncle on 9/11 and I know he
wouldn't have wanted his death to cause others' deaths."
Two very lonely pro-war girls from a Westchester County high school said they
felt they had to come because most of their school walked out against the war,
and they felt someone had to support Bush. A woman from Argentina argued with
them, speaking bitterness about what the U.S. has done to Latin America.
As the rally ended, several hundred youth started a march to Hunter College.
Chanting, "We dance together for peace," they began snaking their way uptown.
Many also took the "peace train" (subway cars filled with students speaking out)
up to Hunter College, where the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition had
organized a rally. Others went to Brooklyn, where a Rally and Represent concert
was happening in association with Not In Our Name, with performers such as
Anti-Balas and DJ Rekha.
As it grew dark, we joined a 40-block candlelight march filled with beautiful
drumming and chanting organized by United for Peace and Justice. The march and
the night culminated with a rally at Washington Square, where youth read poetry
and rhymes and comedian Reno performed. Speakers included Leslie Cagan of UFPJ,
NY City Council member Bill Perkins, Mary Lou Greenberg speaking for NION,
Sister Arlene Flaherty (who just returned from a visit to Iraq with Code Pink),
and Rev. Vernon Williams.
The next night we sat and watched as Bush said on TV that war could start
soon. So much is at stake for them--global domination and military/economic
superiority. And so much is at stake for us--a world free from all this horror.
We must be bold. We must be creative and we must be determined. Because the
future of the world really does depend on it.
An amazing uprising of students was the cutting edge of protests that erupted
in every corner of the SF Bay Area. Students walked out of schools, took over
the streets, blocked traffic, shut down army recruiters, got busted - and made
it onto the front page of the local papers.
In Oakland, office workers shouted "we're proud of you" as hundreds of
students, mostly Black youth, took over downtown streets. In San Francisco, a
bus driver shut down his bus, turned on his "out of service" sign, and got out
to support youth who occupied a downtown intersection for over an hour.
Students from over a dozen East Bay schools broke out, and, in many cases,
walked miles to converge at Oakland's central plaza. At Oakland High School,
administrators locked gates in violation of fire safety rules and students had
to climb over fences to join the protest. Students at private Arrowsmith Academy
in Berkeley defied threats of suspension. Proletarian youth from Oakland's
"continuation" school (for students expelled from other schools) marched next to
youth from private and Catholic schools. Alternative youth with dyed hair from
Laney College hooked up with inner city youth from the Oakland Social Justice
Hundreds of youth took over the streets and marched the length of downtown
Oakland to the docks at Jack London Square. The Oakland police drove motorcycles
into the crowd and arrested a Not In Our Name protest organizer and two
reporters for the Bay View newspaper (a voice of the Black community in San
Francisco's Hunter's Point district). The students made it through police
roadblocks to march back to downtown.
At the rally, a young woman grabbed a bullhorn and called out each school
present to wild cheers from the crowd. Challenging other youth to step up and
speak out, she said, "We're walking out today to represent against the war, cuz
we don't want it! Basically we don't want Bush at all... Keep up the dream, make
the war go away! Iraq don't want it, and we don't want it!"
A young Black man from Laney College said, "How can Bush talk about terrorism
in another country when we still got it over here. They got the KKK. We ain't
got no jobs out here. Nothin'! We don't have nothing. Then we gotta go try to
handle other people's problems when we can't handle our own? We need a voice
coming from our people."
At least 18 high schools, middle schools, colleges and universities walked
out and convened all over San Francisco. A NION organizer described the scene as
youth took over the streets in downtown: "Students from Lowell High and the
School Of The Arts (SOTA) led an incredible charge of up to 1,500 youth through
the streets. Some hooked up at the Civic Center, some at Embarcadero, some at
Powell and Market." Over 1,000 students blockaded the doors of City Hall for an
hour and held a speak-out. Then 400-500 headed up to the Federal Building for
another rally. Students sat down in major intersections and shut down traffic;
20 youth and two adults were arrested downtown, including a NION organizer.
Several Bay Area universities had walkouts and teach-ins. Students at SF
State occupied an intersection for half an hour. Hundreds of students rallied at
UC Berkeley. At Stanford, up to 1,000 students and dozens of professors held
outdoor teach-ins and discussions of the war. Students walked out at City
College of San Francisco and Laney College in Oakland. A teach-in with music and
theater was held at Mills College, a private women's college in Oakland.
Students from high schools and colleges in Sonoma County joined up with
antiwar activists to shut down the military recruiting station in Santa Rosa for
two hours--12 people were arrested. At Cal State Sacramento, 60 to 80 people
marched on campus. In Arcata, in Humboldt County, more than 100 high school
students walked out of school. In Santa Cruz, activists from the Santa Cruz
Peacemakers of the Resource Center for Nonviolence blocked entrances to the
military recruiting station and forced them to close down.
The 80,000-member San Francisco Central Labor Council endorsed the March 5
Moratorium to Stop the War in Iraq. Banners were hung across many freeway
bridges at morning and afternoon rush hours. Several organizations took
responsibility to create "No War Zones," where people could pick up signs and
materials. Bay Area United Against the War passed out signs and leaflets all
day. The People's Non-violent Response Committee organized a Candlelight Vigil
in Oakland, and marched to the Islamic Cultural Center for a gathering where the
Pledge of Resistance was read. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley opened
their center all day for people to use their fax and phones to call Bush or
other politicians to express opposition to the war. At St. Mary's Cathedral in
San Francisco the Archbishop quoted Pope John Paul's message against the war and
mentioned the student walkouts. Two nuns read the NION Pledge of Resistance at
the end of the service. The Japanese-American religious federation Soko Bukai
held a press conference against the war and the round-ups of immigrants.
There were walkouts and other antiwar actions at over 70 L.A.-area high
schools, middle schools, colleges and universities. The actions were wild and
beautiful, cool, determined and defiant. They were carried out in the face of
days of threats and attempted intimidation from school authorities and up
against brutal cops.
Near Fairfax High in west L.A., the LAPD stopped anybody that looked young,
to try and stop kids from leaving school. At noon, several hundred students of
all nationalities walked out and marched down Fairfax Ave. Five blocks later
they met up with 50 students from Marlborough School. They were joined at a
convergence point by students from LACES, the L.A. Center for Enriched Studies,
and 100 out of the 120 students at the L.A. Leadership Academy. Over 500 strong,
they marched around the inter-section for hours. Some teachers and
administrators joined them, including a teacher who took his class there as a
field trip. The protest moved up to Wilshire Blvd., a main street; a large
contingent stayed all afternoon and marched six miles across town to a 4:00
convergence near UCLA.
Hundreds rallied at Venice High, Hamilton in West L.A. and Garfield in East
L.A. There were convergence points set up all over the city, so students from
different schools could come together. Sixty students walked out of Belmont in
the Central American barrio of Pico-Union and marched to Parker Center, the LAPD
headquarters where they found 150 students from Lincoln High and another 200
from Bravo Magnet School. They all went to the old-town plaza known as La
Placita and rallied together, with entertainment provided by a group of Aztec
In the San Fernando Valley area, at Taft over 100 students gathered on campus
as security guards took their photos, threatening to suspend them.
At San Fernando High, the school was surrounded by LAPD and school police
cars. Administrators chained all the exits and blocked them with their bodies.
Two dozen protesters started marching around the school. At every gated entrance
as many as 100 students waited for the protesters. When those outside called on
others to walk out, many did.
Youth inside ran through authorities to get stickers and fliers. A few
climbed the fence and joined the march. Everyone inside was debating the
walkout, the war, what they should do. Students headed to a convergence point
where they were joined by students from Sylmar, supposedly their arch-rivals,
and they protested together.
There were walkouts and campus protests at Canoga Park, El Camino, Grant, Van
Nuys, Burroughs and Burbank High Schools. There were walkouts in outlying areas
of South Pasadena, Alhambra, and Rialto.
From 1,500 to 2,000 people showed up at a rally at the UCLA campus. They were
joined by 100 students who walked out of Peninsula High School. Professors
contributed money and joined the crowd. Speakers included the Muslim Students
Association, MEChA, African Students Union and Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB
--Pro-People Youth). A crowd of 600 marched through campus, ending up at the
administration building for another rally. Dozens of students from Marymount
High School marched up to a wild reception. That night, there was a free concert
featuring Medusa and Burning Star.
Over 200 started to march around Westwood Village, a restaurant and shopping
area next to the UCLA campus. Protesters chanted, "Rise up!--with the people of
the world" and did die-ins at four intersections. At the Westwood Federal
Building, there were LAPD cars and a line of Highway Patrol cops on motorcycles.
After another die-in, the cops started ripping signs out of people's hands. The
crowd did another die-in before marching off into the night.
Five colleges in Orange County had protests. In L.A. County, 1,000 students
rallied at Glendale Community College. In eastern L.A. County there were
day-long protests at the Claremont Colleges, which was also a convergence point
for area high schools. Other protests occurred at the California Institute of
the Arts, Mt. San Antonio College, and the University of Southern
At Santa Monica College 300 students blocked Pico Boulevard with a die-in and
1,000 people attended a teach-in. Later the students did another die-in, up
against cops in riot gear, and then 150 marched for several miles.
At California State University Northridge, 15 students went to the school
with bullhorns, signs and banners. One of them told the RW , "We were
walking down halls, knocking on classroom doors, screaming, `Walk out!'
Professors were just going, `forget it, I'm canceling classes, leave,' and kids
were just walking out with us." The protest grew to about 300 students.
In Santa Barbara County, there were rallies and die-ins at UC Santa Barbara
and a walkout at San Marcos High School. In Ventura County, 150 students walked
out of classes at Ventura High and were joined by 100 others at lunchtime. In
the afternoon, 200 rallied at a park. In Ojai, 20 students walked out of
Nordhoff High, despite threats from the administration. At St. Bonaventure, in
Ventura, 200 walked out and held a silent vigil. Several teachers dismissed
classes, urging their students to attend the protest.
2,000 people converged for a rally called by NION and the Muslim Student
Association Northwest. Students representing 42 Seattle-area schools left class
or "called in sick" to take part. Across the state other campuses held walkouts
and teach-ins. Workers called in sick or walked out. One Seattle law firm shut
down--their voicemail that day said they were closed to join the day of protest.
In Spokane, 10 protesters were arrested when they blocked the front gate of the
Fairchild Air Force Base. Antiwar vigils and actions were held in many Seattle
neighborhoods as well as Yakima, Washington and other cities.
Youth from all grades took anti-war actions--from elementary schools to
graduate programs. Important alliances developed between educators and youth to
oppose the war. In one middle school, 200 out of the school's 360 students (with
the principal's help) walked out. Parents showed support by writing permission
slips; some came to help. Some students faced suspension, but walked out anyway.
A woman from Cornish School of Arts said, "We were out at 9 a.m. this morning,
and we came together with the understanding, the belief, the truth, that
individuals who have convictions that unite together for the cause of peace
cannot fail. We will win!"
Shoreline Community College in north Seattle has a large international
student population and growing antiwar sentiment. Students Against the War and
The Muslim Students Association held a teach-in featuring speakouts, hip-hop
performances, poetry readings and forums.
All over the city students walked out or didn't show up for class. One group
of students hooked up with a crew at another high school, then went on to a
third high school to get more kids. 50 in total walked over to the Seattle
Central Community College (SCCC) campus, where hundreds of people gathered
before going downtown.
Downtown, about 100 youth staged a die-out. The rally started with the tape
of Saul Williams reading the NION Pledge of Resistance--to a wild reception.
Students represented their schools by coming on stage and giving a shout-out.
One high school student said, "We're here to say that yes we DO care and just
'cause we're not 18 it doesn't mean we don't. We've got a voice and we're gonna
use it!" All day there were speakers and music. Labor unions, war veterans,
revolutionary communists, Palestinian rights organizations, antiwar neighborhood
groups, Muslim students and others spoke out against the war and repression.
Students from the islands that dot Puget Sound took ferries to be at the
demo. From the stage, a young woman from a rural middle school on Vashon Island
said, "Though I'm just a little girl, from a little school, in a little
community, I want to let Bush know that I care about my future and the world I
grow into. This is his war, not ours!"
Students at over 30 high schools and colleges in the Chicago area held
teach-ins, staged die-ins and mock funerals, and walked out of school. A
thousand students--a third of the total school enrollment--marched around
Evanston Township High School and stopped traffic on the streets. At Oak
Park-River Forest high school, 450 students--a sixth of the total student
body--walked out. One thousand people took part in a teach-in at the University
At the end of the day, more than 1,500 rallied in downtown Chicago. Hundreds
of youth stood together with veteran activists and others. That mix was
reflected on the stage--with speakers ranging from student representatives to
Rev. Jesse Jackson. Then people took to the streets in a rush-hour march though
Throughout the day there were many different kinds of activities. About 40
students walked out of Avon Lake high school, in a Cleveland suburb, and
demonstrated at an Army recruitment station, chanting "ROTC, you won't recruit
me, I won't kill innocent Iraqis!"
At 3 p.m., over 200 students converged on Public Square in downtown
Cleveland. Students from at least six high schools walked out and came downtown.
There were also students from CATALYST (an organization for social justice at
Case Western Reserve University), Cleveland State University, and Cleveland
Institute of Art. High school and college students spoke out. There were other
speakers from CATALYST, Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective, and
the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.
After a collective reading of the Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance, the
youth poured into the streets, disrupting traffic during rush hour.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker
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