Raleigh-Durham Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)

Revolutionary socialist youth in the US South

Students, community speak out at Obama’s NC jobs speech

Posted by raleighfist on September 26, 2011

By Bryan Perlmutter

Raleigh, NC – Currently on a nationwide tour to promote his new jobs bill, President Barack Obama made one of his first stops at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 14. Within 24 hours of the announcement earlier that week, students and community members in Raleigh came together to organize a protest. The protest called for immediate federal action on immigration policy, to pass the Dream Act, to stop deportations and to veto the Keystone XL pipeline.

The protesters gathered and marched near the entrance of Reynolds Coliseum on NCSU’s campus as 10,000 people filed in to hear the president’s speech. Police restricted the marching of the protesters to one side of the venue, but their presence was still felt. White House staffers tried to start their own chants among the crowd in line, but couldn’t match the spirit of the demonstration that had gathered nearby.

The students chanted, “Yes, we can stop the pipeline! Yes we can pass the Dream Act!” and “Money for jobs and education, not for war and deportation!” The protesters gathered support from people standing in line by passing out literature and giving speeches.

Since 2008, there have been 1 million deportations, more than during any other administration. The White House has claimed that young students are not the target of deportations, but an increasing number of young people have been deported.

“I’ve seen friends, family and people who deserve to go to college denied that opportunity. They’re not U.S. citizens, but they’re just as American, if not more,” said Joel Cabrera, a first-year student in human biology at NC State. “I have seen the smartest people in my community unable to obtain access to higher education because of their immigration status.”

The other demand made by the group was around the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline, which is currently awaiting final approval from the White House before it is constructed. The pipeline will send 900,000 barrels a day of the world’s dirtiest oil to U.S. refineries, allowing further development of the Alberta tar sands. The pipeline would run from Alberta, Canada, through the Northern Plains states before ending at refineries in Nebraska and Illinois.

Mining oil from tar sands creates three times more carbon emissions than conventional oil extraction.

“I am asking you to think about the future of your children and grandchildren. I refuse to allow corporations and the government to destroy the environment for future generations,” said one of the protesters who spoke at the event. “Over 1,250 people have already been arrested protesting the pipeline. We must keep the pressure on President Obama to veto the pipeline!”

Students at the rally said they would not stop at this action. They will continue to mobilize and organize on campus and in their community to tell the powers that be that we must change the path on which we are headed.

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