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2003-03-05

"Books Not Bombs!" "We Need Weapons of Mass Instruction!": Students Walk Out of Classes Around the Country to Protest the Billions of Dollars That Is Going to the US Military &shy and Not Schools

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More than twenty thousand high school students in Australia have kicked off today’s global day of student protest against the war.

Some ten thousand walked out of classes at lunchtime and marched through Sydney’s Central Business District, bringing traffic to a complete stop. In Adelaide, some 7,000 thousand rallied outside South Australia’s Parliament House. Three thousand marched in Melbourne, and hundreds more in smaller cities around the country.

Students from around the world are marching in solidarity with their counterparts here in the United States.

Here, students from over 230 high schools and colleges across the nation are walking out of classes today to protest the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq. High schools from Missoula, Montana, to Missouri to Maine are participating.

Organizers are calling the action "Books not Bombs" and are linking the costly war with Iraq with lower school budgets.

They say the latest round of tuition increases at state colleges and universities is a "war tax" on the poor.

Students are also demanding that their campuses serve education instead of war by removing ROTC and JROTC and replacing them with financial aid and college preparatory programs. They are calling for non-compliance by their schools and the federal repeal of that provision of the "No Child Left Behind Act" which forces high schools to give their students names over to military recruiters or lose federal funds.

A new group called the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition is coordinating the walk-out. Fifteen student groups came together to form the Coalition after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

  • Tameika Byer, a senior at Hunter College and a project coordinator for SLAM, the Student Liberation Action Movement. She helped to organize the student walkouts that are happening all over the country today. She also helped organize the occupation of Hunter president’s office on Feb. 10 and the Feb. 15 protest in NYC that drew half a million people.
  • Ben Waxman, a high school student in Springfield Pennsylvania, and a national coordinator for the student day of action.

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We go now to Broomfield Legacy High School in Colorado, to hear how the high school is reacting to the walkout.

  • David Dial, 11th grade student at Broomfield’s Legacy High School in Colorado. He was suspended for posting fliers in the school promoting the student walkout.

And in other protest news, artists against war are gathering in museums around the world today for an international protest dubbed a "Draw-in."

The artists are specifically meeting in exhibit rooms that showcase artwork from the civilizations which have flourished in Mesopotamia, the area that is modern-day Iraq.

The artists plan to draw with pencil on paper the art around them, which was created as early as 5,000 years ago in the land now known as Iraq.

According to the group’s website: "This is a peaceful vigil, made in protest against US foreign policy under George W. Bush. If someone asks what we are doing, we will speak quietly with them and explain our position, then continue to draw. We will keep in mind the intention: to pay homage to this land, culture and people, which our government is planning to destroy. We are deeply concerned about an imminent threat to human life, and to the memory and history embedded in all of Mesopotamia, modern Iraq."

We are joined in our studio by Joyce Kozloff who is helping to organize the Draw In today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

  • Joyce Kozloff, New York artist and representative of Artists Against War.

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