Campus military recruiters in hot water
Published Oct 23, 2005 10:15 AM
After being “banned” from
campus, Charles Peterson has been reinstated at Holyoke Community College. This
victory for the entire counter-recruitment and anti-war movement came only after
massive worldwide support for Peterson and resistance actions, including a march
and rally on campus Oct. 6.
The attempt to bar Peterson from the campus
where he studies and works came after a counter-recruiting action there on Sept.
29. He and other members of the HCC Anti-War coalition were brutalized and Maced
by campus and state cops as they were protesting Army National Guard recruiting
at the student cafeteria. They also focused on the Pentagon’s bigoted
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which essentially bars
LGBT persons from enlisting—in violation of the college’s and the
state’s non-discrimination laws. (www.campusantiwar.net)
day after this action, Peterson was visited at his home by two state police
officers, who told him he was banned from campus and would be arrested for
trespassing if he entered public HCC property. Peterson, a leading member of the
coalition, is vice president for academic affairs on the Student Senate and is
employed at HCC.
The movement started a campaign that resulted in well
over 1,000 calls, emails and faxes from all over the world to college president
William Messner. Many anti-war and other progressive organizations also helped
by sending out statements and announcements to thousands of members on their
list serves or posting these on websites, among other support actions.
The Anti-War coalition is still demanding an immediate, unconditional
public apology from the college; a pledge of non-retaliation against activists;
a thorough and impartial investigation; and a ban keeping military recruiters
Hands off Tariq Khan!
Tariq Khan, a Pakistani
student at George Mason University in Virginia and a former U.S. Air Force
member, was assaulted by police and an ROTC member while protesting Marine
recruiters on campus Sept. 29. Evidently they didn’t like the sign this
veteran was carrying: “Recruiters lie, don’t be deceived.”
An ROTC member ripped off his sign and police were seen choking the
peaceful protester and dragging him, handcuffed, to a police car after he
refused to move from the recruiter’s table area. Khan has been charged
with disorderly conduct, trespassing at his own university and resisting arrest.
His court date is set for Nov. 14.
Like Peterson, Khan is receiving
An Oct. 3 rally at George Mason to demand immediately
dropping the charges against Khan drew over 150 students and allies. Hundreds,
if not thousands of people, have supported Khan in various ways. This includes
129 faculty members signing a letter calling for an investigation of the police
actions and of the school’s policy on First Amendment rights.
550 students, faculty, staff, alum ni, campus community members and other
supporters have signed a “Drop all charges!” online petition.
(new.petition online.com/gmutariq/petition.html) And the American Civil
Liberties Union is defending Khan, who is considering taking legal action
against the university.
As a result of this pressure, the university thus
far has issued a statement to Khan recognizing that he was staging a peaceful
protest and insisting it is committed to students’ rights to free speech
on campus; it also pledged to conduct an internal investigation into the conduct
of the police officers against the other students involved in the Sept. 29
Khan himself, like Peterson, is on the front lines in his own
defense. At the Oct. 3 rally he declared:
“Now, I’ve got a
message for the police, and GMU authorities, and for all of the right-wing goons
who helped the police brutalize me or who cheered them on. If by
‘don’t cause any more disturbances’ they mean don’t tell
students the truth about the military, then I will continually cause
disturbances. I will not be bullied or intimidated into silence, I will not
respect or obey any order that tells me I can’t exercise my own
inalienable rights,” said Khan.
“I will continue to stand
against war, militarism, occupation and authoritarianism. And I will not
acquiesce to fear tactics and bullying and stupidity and hate. The university
authorities’ actions against me last Thursday were their way of telling me
to shut up. And my answer to them is: ‘No, I will not shut up!’ They
don’t want me to say recruiters lie. Well I’m going to say it,
‘Recruiters lie!,’” concluded Khan.
To support the
“Drop all charges, now!” demand, speak your mind to Alan G. Merten,
George Mason president, at (703) 993-8700 or mail letters to: Office of the
President, George Mason University, 4400 University Dr. MSN 3A1, Fairfax, VA
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