Revolution #83 Online Edition


March 20: Students Protest Around the Country

“The Youth Will Not Be Silent”

On March 20, the four-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, thousands of students across the country walked out, demonstrated, marched, and held die-ins and other actions in protest. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) issued the call for the day, and it was taken up by students and organizations from coast to coast. Over 80 college campuses and many high schools joined in. This day of student protests came a little over a month after thousands across the country participated in a nationwide student strike on February 15.

There was great determination in these actions. The Daily Tar Heel, the campus paper at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, reported that hundreds of students rallied and marched. The paper quoted a freshman who said: "I walked out today to show this campus and this town, and, along with the other 80 campuses that walked out today, to show this country that the youth will not be silent, and we won't stand aside as people are murdered... And we're going to end this war." A senior, noting that the Iraq war has been going on since she started college, said, "All of my worst fears for this occupation have come true. The fourth anniversary of the war must be the beginning of the end."

At the University of Florida in Gainesville, 500 students marched through the campus, ending up at the university president's office to deliver a petition demanding that the school publicly oppose the war.

At Rutgers University, 400 students rallied and a few hundred marched to a military recruiting center and then down Route 18 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, shutting down southbound traffic for 15 minutes. An associate professor of English, who dismissed her class early for the protest, said, "I made sure what we discussed in class was relevant to participating in the rally."

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, 200 students, youth and community members marched on the 17th, carrying large banners and signs—one prominent banner read “655,000 Iraqis Dead.” They marched to the house of Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers, a supporter of the Iraq war, and demanded that he sign a symbolic contract agreeing to immediate withdrawal and opposition to any further war funding. The march then continued around the city; four were arrested, including a sociology professor from Grand Valley State University.

Reports from the protest by 300 students at Iowa University, known as a conservative campus, noted a shift in the atmosphere at the school: pro-war rallies are no longer held, and students who thought they'd never be “the type of person to attend events like this” found themselves coming out against the war.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and people from the community took part in a “Critical Mass” bike ride in protest of the war.

On March 19, students from the Ivy League Brown University in Rhode Island held a die-in outside the headquarters of Textron, Inc., a weapons manufacturer.

In Chicago, Students for Social Justice and SDS organized a midday walkout. Later, about 150 students joined a feeder march that started from University Center, a large dorm for several of the schools in the downtown “Loop” area, and joined the larger citywide march down Michigan Avenue. The march was organized by students from the Committee Against the Militarization of Youth, Anarchist Students of Color, and the Columbia College chapter of World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime. Two members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War joined them.

Over 100 people, including about 50 high school students, came together on March 19 with determined outrage to shut down the Armed Forces Recruitment Center in East Los Angeles. The recruitment center decided to shut their doors early to “avoid any problems.” What started as a picket along Soto, a major thoroughfare, burst to life when dozens of students from nearby Roosevelt High School came marching to bagpipe music, chanting “Shut Them Down!” and hoisting signs against the war and torture being carried out by the U.S. government.

In Santa Rosa, California, 300 students walked out of Maria Carrillo High School. Students had organized the walkout and march in one week's time.

In New York City, after a rally of 150 in Washington Square Park led by New York University students, 60 students—mostly high schoolers—marched to a military recruiting center in Greenwich Village.

Links to reports and videos from various March 20 protests can be found at Video of some the demonstrations can also be found on YouTube.

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