US: Student walk-out defies rain and repression

Four students arrested

At 10:30 am, 29 April, thousands of students across the Twin Cities walked out of class to protest against the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in schools, demanding money for education and social needs, not war. Up to 900 students rallied at the University of Minnesota at Northrop Plaza and listened to speeches from youth anti-war organizers. Students maintained a lively protest in the pouring rain chanting, “No Justice, No Peace, U.S. Out of the Middle East,” and “Exxon, Mobile, Chevron, Shell, Take your War and Go to Hell."

The Twin Cities Student Anti-war Walkout was organized by Youth Against War and Racism, the Anti-War Organizing League, and Socialist Alternative (CWI in US).

Students took the streets to march to a military recruitment station where one youth threw a can of red paint against the windows of the recruitment station to symbolize the innocent blood spilled in Iraq. The organizations that called the protest did not plan the throwing of the paint.

When several trained peace marshals moved in to calm the situation, leading the crowd in chanting “peaceful protest,” University of Minnesota Police officers rushed into the crowd and violently grabbed and arrested three of them.

Janae Marshall, post secondary MCTC student from South High, and also a peace marshal, explained the circumstances of her arrest: “The officer slammed my face against the wall and when I asked him for his name and badge number he told me to ‘shut the fuck up and stop resisting’.” Later Janae’s step-father, who was at the protest, got found out the officer’s badge number was 2030.

Ella Comeau, also a MCTC/South High student and a peace marshal, was urging people to back away from the recruitment station when she was arrested. “We were not the ones who threw the paint. We were wrongfully arrested,” explained Ella. Officer 2001 arrested Ella.

“We will not let this incident deflect from the main message of our protest. We walked out for peace, justice, and human rights,” explained Ella. “Paint thrown on a window does not compare to the bloodshed and brutality of this hypocritical war in Iraq.” Janae added, “The paint on the recruiters window was washed off within a couple hours, but the blood of innocents in Iraq can’t be washed away.”

While the first three students to be arrested were released within 30 minutes, another protester, 21 year old Daniel Falla, was arrested at least 30 minutes after the incident at the recruiters’ station, blocks away at the end rally behind Coffman student union. He is being accused of felony probable cause damage to property. He is being held until at least Monday, when his bail may be set.

Chris Allison is co-ordinating Falla’s legal defense team and he can be reached at 612-718-9804. “We are very concerned that the legal system will try to make an example out of Daniel,” explained Chris. “Since the passage of the Patriot Act there has been a huge rise in severe and unjustified punishment for non-violent civil disobedience.” Daniel’s legal defense team will be sending out a separate press release and is requesting donations for Daniel’s defense.

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May 2006