Youth continue effort to close recruiting station
Posted by raleighfist on January 5, 2007
By Ben Carroll
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Published Dec 19, 2006 10:09 PM
Some 50 youth and community members held a demonstration Dec. 15 at the recently opened Army recruiting station in Chapel Hill, N.C. The demonstration, organized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was scheduled to coincide with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station by the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce.
About 10 youth activists, including members of Raleigh FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), were prepared to attend the ceremony posing as onlookers. When the ribbon was cut, they would unzip their jackets to reveal shirts that read “Iraqi Civilian” splattered with red paint and fall to the ground in a die-in. The direct action was called off at the last minute, however, as the activists received word from a Town Council member, from recruiters present for the ceremony and from the media that the ceremony had been canceled.
Youth activists then joined community members in a picket line in front of the recruiting station. With chants of “Out of Iraq! Out of our schools!” and “No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” the demonstrators made their presence known.
After several minutes of the moving picket line, about 10 police officers and the property manager descended on the group of demonstrators and ordered them to leave the supposedly public ceremony. Using their physical prowess, the cops herded the demonstrators from the shopping center and onto the sidewalk.
It became apparent that the ceremony was indeed taking place, even without the Chamber of Commerce present. Three older community members who had remained at the ceremony then revealed signs that read, “Hands off my grandchildren—no recruiting” and “We mourn the dead.” These peaceful demonstrators were promptly arrested and hauled off to jail. Additionally, two youth activists received citations for holding a banner.
The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce later issued a public statement claiming it had received credible information that the demonstration was going to be “non-peaceful” and that it felt the “safety of Chamber staff and volunteers” was threatened. The Chamber used this violence-baiting not only as a tactic to avoid addressing the political content of the demonstration, but also to justify the police repression under the guise of “public safety.”
Youth activists from FIST and SDS said the reaction by both the Chamber and the police reveals the strength of the movement the youth are building. These organizations have vowed to continue confronting this recruiting station until it is forced to close its doors for good.
Anti-recruiting in New York
Anti-recruiting activists from North Carolina attended the Troops Out Now Coalition Antiwar Summit meeting in Harlem last Nov. 18, where the breakout group on counter-recruiting decided to do something concrete to impact the ability of Washington to wage war. “The one way we could do that,” Dustin Langley said, “was to hinder military recruiting.”
“So far,” Langley continued, “we in New York have been picketing at the Chambers Street recruiting station each Tuesday and Thursday. Our plans for the New Year are to hold a counter-recruiting activists meeting in January and see if we can organize picketing outside the station every day.
“After the New Year, we will also be calling on antiwar activists across the U.S. to ‘adopt a recruiting station’ and maintain a regular presence at that site with the goal of shutting it down. So far we’ve gotten a friendly reception on the street, and even a small protest will bring all the recruiters out and stop them from recruiting.”
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