Max Toynbee from Finham Park school reports:
No to war in Iraq. Britain.
School students strike against the war
We reproduce below reports from International Socialist Resistance, the anti-capitalist youth organisation which has organised a Youth against the War campaign responsible in many areas for the strike call to students on March 5th. CWI online
"At my school we got about 35 people to a meeting at which Dave Nellist spoke (A Coventry Socialist Party councilior for St Michael’s ward). A teacher spoke in favour of war just so that people had to the arguments in favour of it presented to them. It was really good.
A lot of people there were year seven students, who are in the first year of secondary school, 11 and 12-year-olds. It was great seeing younger students there, and not just the older students.
It was good in town as well. We got about 40 or so people onto the demonstration like the Godiva statue. There was students from Sidney Stringer, Barrs Hill, Finham Park sixth form, Stoke Park, The Butts College, Tile Hill college, Coventry University, and probably some other schools and colleges that I don’t know about. We did the short, lively march around town. We had a megaphone and we were doing some good chants. Then me and a girl called Michelle, who is also an ISR member at the college in Coventry went into the council house and asked to see a Labour councillor to see if they could justify their position on the war. A councillor did come out and spoke to the rest of the demonstration — councillor Heather Parker, who represents Foleshill ward in Coventry, but her arguments didn’t convince any of the students.
The day was very successful. We recruited a lot of people to ISR and more and more people are getting involved in ISR in Coventry. There were a few problems in terms of organising in schools which we can work on for the next time, but over all the day was a big success."
In Sheffield 400 students took part in the strikes showing their opposition to the war and cam out on strike on the 5th March.
Around 150 came from King Edwards; there were many students who took part in the strikes from over 10 other schools from across the city. There were also FE students who took part.
When students arrived in the city centre, there was really lively march around the city centre with loads of chanting and singing – which then went onto the FE college and another school and went round calling for students to ’Come Out and join our protests’.
ISR members and supporters collected over 90 names of school students who want more information from over 11 schools and 4 college sites.
This took place in the background of some head teachers and the education department trying to stop the walkouts through the press including the head teacher for m High Storrs School sending letters home to parents telling them students had been given ISR flyers!!
Gavin Martin from High Storrs School said: "There was a lot of interest about walkouts in many schools across Sheffield including my own school which actually sent out a letter forbidding anyone to go to the march in town. Despite this around forty or fifty people from my school joined others to march the streets of Sheffield in the rain. We went to schools, colleges and the university to join with more young people of Sheffield and we saw some students who wanted to join the protest being held back by teachers who were trying to separate us from their students. As we marched we received a great deal of support from the public and many people honked their horns or showed other signs of approval. At the peak of the march I would estimate that there were probably up to a thousand protesters, maybe even more, despite schools condemning the walkout idea. Many more people would have come if possible and I am sure there will be a massive turnout for any similar protest on ’Day X’."
This shows the determination of young people to show their anger at war on Iraq – now onto building for ’Day X’ walkouts and action!! There will also be a Stop the War Coalition demonstration on Saturday, which over 3,000 people are expected to take part in.
In Leeds, up to 300 students walked out against the war. Many were from Notre Dame 6th form college and there were 50-80 from the university and some from the Art College who were also joined by a number of students from local schools. All met up for a really good, lively protest.
A number of ISR members and supporters are now continuing the protests and are on hunger strike in the city centre. This has received lots of press coverage, and the students are appealing for people to join the hunger strikes and show support – more to follow.
’Education not War’ protest at Parliament and Downing St
Downing Street and Whitehall came to a grinding halt for an hour on 5 March when 500 school students took a rolling protest from Parliament Green down to the gates of Downing Street.
School students from across London – from north, south and west – and even from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire came to the demonstration. Throughout the day new groups of students arrived after walking out of their school. Some had just heard about the action on the news and decided to walk out.
A number of students had been threatened with exclusion but as many said: "They can’t exclude all of us if we stick together".
Some had brought home-made banners, taking estate agents’ hoardings.
School students sat down in front of Downing Street and it took police nearly an hour to move them to the other side of the road. In some individual cases the police were exceptionally heavy-handed but did not pursue the full riot tactics that they normally do when ploughing into demonstrations. Obviously, police wading into school students with batons and horses is not the sort of publicity the government wants at the moment.
The protest made the national TV news and ISR member Chaminda Jayanetti was interviewed and appeared on the BBC 6 o’clock news.
School students were joined by students from Brunel and UCL universities in London. Students from Fortismere school, South Camden Community School, Elliot School, Lady Margaret School, Acland Burghley, Parliament Hill and Dame Alice Owen’s School all signed up to link up with ISR for future actions on Day X.
The ISR leaflet and action plan of how to take action on Day X was eagerly taken up by many of those on the protest.
Lewisham school students march out of school to protest against the war
A lively, noisy picket line of a couple of hundred school students at Sydenham girls school started a day of protest against the war in Lewisham. Teachers tried to bully students back in and even went so low as to use the anti-trade union laws to get the young people to go in to lessons.
The students, who have been leafleting and preparing banners and stickers for the strike, were not to be deterred from this opportunity to get their voices heard. Hundreds of students marched from Sydenham Girls to Forest Hill Boys School where teachers locked the students in and prevented them from joining the demonstration. Many of the Forest Hill lot broke out the back gate and came down to join the rally in the local park. All the way while we were marching the chants of No Blood for Oil and NO War brought workers out to the pavements and windows to support us and most of the cars beeped in support of our protest against Bush and Blair’s war.
After the rally the police also tried to bully us out of having a demonstration and after we went up to Sedge Hill school where the students were again locked in by the teachers we had a really bizarre police chase with about 20 of us on a bus and a van load of police following us and stopping at all the stops!!
When we got up to Christ the King where we had planned a lunchtime rally the police were already on the gate. Students were asking the policemen what they thought of the war and were horrified when they said they weren’t allowed to have an opinion!
One student from Year 8 said: "It’s a big privilege to me to say what I want to say. People think that we’re too young to have a say. Today’s been really good so people know that we have a right to a say."
Another from Year 10 where loads turned up said: "Teachers not letting everyone have a say even though it’s our right to strike."
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