FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Military Recruiters Target Campus Activists

by HADAS THIER And KATRINA YEAW

On Wednesday, March 9, three students from the City College of New York (CCNY), Justino Rodriguez Nicholas Bergreen and one of the authors of this piece (Hadas Thier) were brutalized and arrested by campus security guards for peacefully protesting the presence of military recruiters at CCNY’s “career fair.” We were charged with misdemeanor counts of assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace, among other things. Hospital records from Mt. Sinai confirm that Bergreen and Rodriguez suffered multiple contusions and post-concussion syndrome. A court date is set for April 5.

What was the reaction of CCNY’s administration to these events? Without so much as a phone call to see if we were alright, or to find out our side of the story, Gregory H. Williams, the president of our college, sent an email to the entire faculty and student body repeating the allegations against us as if they were facts. “The confrontation escalated and several of the demonstrators grabbed and hit the officer. At this point, the three students involved in the attack on the officer were arrested,” he wrote.

Perhaps his previous job experience as a small-town sheriff filled him with an innate sympathy for security forces. Nevertheless, Williams is now the president of an institution of higher learning. Debate, dissent, and, yes, even protest, must not only be tolerated in education, they should be nurtured and encouraged.

On the same day, Students Against War at San Francisco State University, a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network, along with other student groups, organized a demonstration against military recruiters on our campus. Two hundred students rallied in Malcolm X Plaza and then marched inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center to confront Army and Air Force recruiters. For over 3 hours, students chanted down the recruiters and then surrounded them with a peaceful teach-in. The Army recruiters left within forty-five minutes. The Air Force recruiters held out longer, but ultimately gave up and left-without any new recruits.

The following day, March 10th, military recruiters returned to the SFSU. When two activists attempted to hand out anti-recruitment leaflets by the recruiters’ tables, eight police officers surrounded them and forcibly removed them from their own student center, pushing them and twisting one activist’s arm. When the other activist asked why she was being forced to leave, she was pushed into a doorway, told she was causing a fire hazard by standing there, and then kicked out of the building.

The military recruitment debate is heating up. With unemployment for black men currently standing at 50 percent in New York, Harlem — and CCNY in particular — is bound to be a priority target for military recruiters. “Counter-recruitment” has become a national issue (see “Counter-Recruiters Shadowing the Military,” USA Today, March 7), and it’s working. Between these efforts, and widespread anger about the war, recruitment is down. According to a March 6 Reuters report, “The regular Army is 6 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target, the Reserve is 10 percent behind, and the Guard is 26 percent short.” The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that African-American recruitment is down 41 percent since 2000.

Counter-recruitment efforts have taken off from New York to Seattle and the military has clearly become concerned. At William Patterson University in New Jersey, an activist was arrested for simply handing out counter-recruitment leaflets. Twice last semester, CCNY student protesters drove military recruiters off of Colin Powell’s alma mater with peaceful protests. This time campus security was ready.

“We didn’t even get through one round of chanting,” according to Tiffany Paul, a junior at CCNY and a member of the Campus Anti-War Network (CAN), who was one of the protesters. “We were completely peaceful. It was the officers who were violent.”

On Friday, March 11, Hadas Their was informed that she had been suspended from the University for “posing a continuing danger,” and was banned from even setting foot on campus, pending a hearing to take place sometime in the next seven days. On the same day, Carol Lang, a CCNY staff member, was picked up in her office and arrested in connection with Wednesday’s protest and also charged with assault.

At SFSU a university spokesperson informed reporters that groups involved in the protest will be suspended and some of the individual students will also face discipline.

Sean O’Neill, a veteran who returned from Iraq last year after serving with the Marines, spoke out in defense of the SFSU students who helped organize the counter-recruitment protest, saying, “Do students have the right to protest? Of course they do! Are you saying that people can’t protest anything now? Anyone who’s taken even a cursory glance at the Constitution will tell you that we have the right to protest whatever we want…As a vet, I don’t take any offense! Anyone who doesn’t want me over there is a friend in my book.”

Bush claims that his occupation of Iraq represents “democracy is on the march” in the Middle East. Will that include the right to protest? Certainly not for the 100,000 Iraqis killed by the U.S. since the March 2003 invasion, or the more than 1500 dead American soldiers. Blood and oil don’t mix and they don’t create democracy.

Here in the U.S., high school and college student activists all over the country can take up the fight for peace and democracy and organize to kick recruiters out of their schools. Like the lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro 45 years ago that challenged segregation in dozens of communities across the nation, you can get started opposing the recruiters at your school with just a few friends. Getting the military out of our schools and replacing them with real educational opportunities is our generation’s fight. No one will do it for us. We owe it to ourselves, the Iraqis, and the American soldiers dying for a lie.

To find out what you can do to help, write to cityfreespeech@earthlink.net and SFSUfreespeech@gmail.com or go to CAN’s website www.campusantiwar.net

Hadas Thier attends City College of New York and Katrina Yeaw attends San Francisco State University.
 

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail