The city should channel teenagers into jobs but not at U.S. Army recruiting stations.
Yet that’s what happened this summer. Fourteen youths were assigned to work at an Army recruiting station through a Queens nonprofit organization participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) administers the program.
Fourteen is a drop out of the thousands of jobs that tax-payer dollars support. But the assignment is troublesome. These are impressionable youths working in centers geared precisely at convincing and enlisting young people. It is doubly troubling in light of the social context driving the latest aggressive push in military recruiting, namely the bloody and deeply unpopular war in Iraq.
In minority neighborhoods, Army recruiters have opened storefront “career centers.” They draw kids to recruitment booths at street festivals by giving away trinkets and blaring Hip Hop. The intrusive recruitment activities at high schools, especially where kids are lagging academically, have been documented by El Diario/la prensa and others. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the Army has access to student information.
Intensified recruiting to meet enlistment quotas has included misleading information. Last fall, CNN showed how New York recruiters were downplaying the possibility of being sent to a battlefront.
With more than 150 New Yorkers dying in Iraq, our city and state have already carried a heavy burden. We’re still reeling from losing baby-faced soldiers like Juan Alcantara, the 22-year-old Washington Heights resident killed in Iraq earlier this month.
DYCD and contracted organizations should refrain from bringing kids a step closer to military service as a condition of their city-funded and assigned summer job.
Archive for the ‘Counter Recruitment Protests’ Category
Since around 4 p.m. on Sept. 4, I haven’t eaten anything in protest of the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in Pittsburgh. Here on day nine, I’m not feeling super up to writing anything. But Richard Brown’s column “Forbes Ave. demonstrators apathetic” has inspired me.
First, I think it’s really important to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as what is happening on Forbes Avenue. Brown seems to have read our website, seen if not read our flyer and even been down to the site itself, and yet he doesn’t make any indication at all that he knows that our event is a fast. That is, we’re sitting outside the recruiting station for the month of September, and during that month some of us are not eating. Regardless of what you think of it, let’s just make sure that this fact is clear.
That said, I’m not even sure if the bizarre apathy charge being leveled at us really needs to be addressed. Indeed, many times we don’t bother holding signs and just sit on the sidewalk. That’s because many of us have to work, go to school or have other obligations and can’t be there very often. And those of us who are focusing on the fast this month are tired.
Indeed, the point of a fast isn’t to be enthusiastic. We’re not fasting to get people pumped up for social change. We’re fasting and maintaining a camp because we want to draw attention to the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment. We’re not fasting because we think that if we don’t eat any food the war will suddenly end. We believe that by fasting and drawing attention to the war we can help put pressure on Congress to end it.
Congress has not tried to end the war. Rather than passing the war funding bills that Bush wants, the Democrats could just refuse to pass any funding bill. It’s also important to remember that the Republicans are trying to decide right now how the war will affect them in the coming election; showing them dissent puts pressure on them, too. After a while in his column, Brown gets to criticize our goals. He disagrees with immediate withdrawal because he believes that if you keep throwing bullets, bombs and money at a civil war, it will somehow abate.
I believe that if there were fewer holes being put in Iraqi homes and bodies, and less interference in its political affairs, Iraqis might be able to solve their own problems without dealing with ours. Some of Brown’s problems with our anti-military recruitment stance are old, and some are exclusive to him.
Never do we say that joining the military is a violation of our rights as Americans. We do say that when you sign that contract, you have no rights. It also sounds like Richard thinks that if new recruits don’t sign up, old ones don’t get out. That’s only half right; a lot of the old ones don’t get out easily (unless they are injured, then they are gone pretty quick).
As for the other problems with counter-recruitment: What other “job” can you spend years in prison for playing hooky, disobeying your boss or even disagreeing with your boss too strongly? And do you understand that many people who sign up for the army do so because they don’t feel they have any other options (this almost happened with me). And even for those who do join solely because they want to serve their country, how is Iraq serving us?
How is this multi-trillion dollar war going to help the people of this country? The only people this war is serving are power hungry politicians and huge corporations making a killing on “defense” contracts and the newly opened market of Iraq. As far as “honks for peace” goes, people in Oakland can hear them, and they sure as hell can stop this war. They just need to realize it and make it happen.
Power to the people.
Pittsburgh Organizing Group
NEW YORK – The New York chapter of the War Resisters League kicked off a week of actions against military recruitment in New York by shutting down the Times Square Recruiting Station Saturday morning. Three members of the WRL were arrested, but the recruiting station remained closed for the rest of the day as the WRL maintained its presence there, joined in the afternoon by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.
The three arrestees were charged with disorderly conduct and released four hours later.
The NYC War Resisters League called the week of anti-recruiting actions “to demand an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to cease destroying the lives of young people who are sent to war, and to rechannel the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the military into programs here and abroad that seek to improve lives of all people.”
Each day for the next week, a different group or groups will take responsibility for actions aimed at keeping the recruiting station in Times Square closed, beginning at 9am:
Sept. 10 (Mon.) : NYC Catholic Worker/Kairos Community
Sept. 11 (Tues.) : NYC War Resisters League
Sept. 12 (Wed.) : Witness Against Torture
Sept. 13 (Thurs.) : CodePink/Granny Peace Brigade
Sept. 14 (Fri.) : Movement for a Democratic Society-NYC/World Can’t Wait
Sept. 15 (Sat.) : Green Party of Brooklyn/Park Slope Greens
The War Resisters League is an 84-year-old secular pacifist organization, headquartered in New York City, and is affiliated with the War Resisters’ International, which is based in London. WRL believes war to be a crime against humanity and advocates Gandhian nonviolence as the method for creating a democratic society free of war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.
Here’s a first-hand account of the protest, with pictures and videos:
At 8:30 am we egan blocking the front door of the yet-to-be-opened recruiting center. Shortly after, two counter-demonstrators (“Protest Warriors”) came with large banner and American flags. [Several hours later a “Gathering of Eagles” woman joined them and screamed most of the time.]
At 8:45 am, two recruiters appeared and tried to enter the building but were rebuffed by the demonstrators. The recruiters called the police who showed up a few minutes later. They warned that those blocking the door would be arrested AND that we’d all have to leave the “military island.” The police then brought in metal barricades to surround the island as well as setting them up across Broadway and across Seventh Ave.
The stand off lasted for an hour and a quarter before the three demonstrators were arrested (at 10 am) but the police allowed the rest of us to stay on the island as long as we allowed pedestrian traffic along the island. Immediately after the arrest, two recruiters entered the building.
When it comes to military recruitment in public schools, no child’s information is left inaccessible.
According to a brief section of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), any school receiving federal funding is required to provide military recruiters with middle and high school students’ names, phone numbers, and addresses upon request. Meanwhile, the Pentagon maintains a Department of Defense (DoD) database known as the Joint Advertising and Market Research Studies Recruiting Database that contains extensive information on approximately 30 million Americans ages 16 to 25.
The database is updated daily and includes information such as social security number, grade point average, ethnicity, areas of study, height, weight, email address, selective service registration, and phone number. Individuals may opt out from being included in this database but must repeat this process upon changing address. Many objectors claim that this database violates the Federal Privacy Act.
The military also uses the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as a means of information gathering. The “most widely used multiple aptitude test in the world,” the DoD develops and maintains the test and more than half of America’s high schools participate. Students’ scores determine which occupations best suit them. Taking the ASVAB is also a requirement for military enlistment.
In order for their tests to be processed, students are required to sign a waiver that allows the military to keep any information provided on the form for various uses. In most cases, military recruiters automatically receive copies of students’ scores, names, grades, sex, addresses, phone numbers, and post-graduation plans unless the school decides against releasing this information.
“Many students will take the ASVAB and not know what it is,” Pitcaithley says. “It gives the military a foot in the door to accessing students.”
One mother says that during her son’s freshmen orientation this summer at Baldwin High School on Maui, a guidance counselor mentioned the ASVAB as a free test offered to students by the military.
After more than a year’s deliberation, the Pinellas School Board on Tuesday granted access to groups wishing to present alternatives to military service to high school students.
The decision means that after a 21/2-year ban, antiwar groups such as Veterans for Peace will be allowed on Pinellas County high school campuses – as long as their intent is to present an alternative to the message delivered by military recruiters.
The board’s adoption of an “access to students” policy, which came after several draft versions, makes Pinellas the first large district in the state to approve such a plan, School Board attorney Jim Robinson said.
“What you see now,” Robinson said, “is a much simplified rule that simply states that to the same extent that military recruiters are granted access to students, so will persons who seek to propose alternative post-secondary careers and opportunities.”
The new policy includes several caveats, which apply to all individuals or groups seeking access to students, including college and military recruiters.
Visits must be scheduled in advance with school administrators. No more than two visitors can meet with students at one time without permission from the principal.
Meetings can take place before and after school and at lunch time only, and all visitors must wear district-issued identification badges while on campus.
The policy also gives principals the right to deny access to any group or individual who “becomes disruptive.”
That was a sticking point with some members of Veterans for Peace, the group that brought the question of student access to the district in April 2006. Several wanted the policy to be more specific regarding what activities qualified as “disruptive,” fearing visitors could be arbitrarily dismissed without just cause.
Nevertheless, Veterans for Peace member Linda Hubner said she was thrilled with the board’s unanimous decision to approve the access policy.
“This is what we’ve wanted all along,” Hubner said, “the chance to give kids the information they need to make life and death decisions.”
Two years ago, Pinellas officials denied the group access to students, saying the veterans’ message didn’t correspond with school goals. The group had cited legal precedent that it would constitute “viewpoint discrimination.”
A local organization is informing students that they can prevent that [students’ information being released to recruiters] from happening.
Thursday morning the Central Valley Counter Recruitment Coalition handed out flyers at several high schools including Fresno High School in Central Fresno.
Organizers say there is a form students can use to keep their contact information private from the military.
Scott Keys, CVCRC, says, “It’s really about helping them understand this, rights imbedded in the No Child Left Behind Act.”
Organizers say the act allows the information to be released. They say they want students to know about it and that they have the option to opt out.
They also say students are not required to take a military readiness test which can release their contact information.
Here’s the announcement from the Pittsburgh Organizing Group itself.
After more than two years and dozens of pickets, Pittsburgh Organizing Group will announce Aug. 8 what POG calls its most ambitious protest effort yet: a 26-day camp-out and fast in front of Oakland’s main military recruiting station, on Forbes Avenue.
Mike Butler, 21, of Bloomfield, says he will undertake a water-only fast on the sidewalk from Sept. 4 through Sept. 30. The goal, he says, is “to put pressure on the people who are running the country, both in government and out” — including Congressional representatives who say they want to end the war in Iraq, “but don’t take firm steps to do so.”
POG is calling for immediate troop withdrawals from Iraq and an end to military recruiting in Pittsburgh. The “End War Fast” encampment, for which POG is seeking city permits, like the fast itself, “will put a spotlight politically and morally … on this symbol of militarism, this thing that continues the war in our community,” Butler says. “A lot of other tactics just can’t focus that kind of attention either on the recruiting center or the war in general.”
Alex Bradley, a long-time organizer for the five-year-old anarchist group, says Butler will be joined by increasing numbers of protesters, campers and fast participants as September progresses. At the end, he says, “[T]here will be dozens of people camped out and fasting around the clock.”
Evan Knappenberger is like many young post-Sept. 11 Army enlistees who went from high school into the military for patriotic reasons. He wanted to spread democracy, to topple Saddam Hussein, “to do something to affect the world in a good way,” the freckled 22-year-old says.
Today, Knappenberger is a disillusioned Iraq War veteran, four months out of the military and on a one-man mission as a peace activist campaigning against Defense Department policies that he believes unethically support the continuation of the war.
He is not so much protesting as standing guard against the Pentagon’s so-called “stop-loss” and “inactive reserve” policies, both designed to maintain troop strength in light of failed recruitment goals. His platform is a makeshift six-foot-tall guard tower that he erected Sunday next to the Washington Monument. There, outfitted in his battle dress uniform, Knappenberger is holding a vigil for seven nights and eight days.
The policies have, in effect, created conscripted service in an ostensibly voluntary military, he said.
“How do you tell a 17-year-old or a 55-year-old grandpa that [he’s] part of a voluntary military and yet he’s being involuntarily extended?” Knappenberger asked as he stood in front of his guard tower, filled with sandbags, covered with burlap netting and decorated with a “Funding the War is Killing the Troops” placard.
“It makes no sense, and it’s wrong.”
STAMFORD, Conn. —A city man was arrested Tuesday on charges that he twice left a fake bomb package at a military recruitment office, police said.
Francis Monaghan, 68, was charged with two counts of first-degree breach of peace, a felony, and two counts of reckless endangerment, said Lt. Sean Cooney.
“He made certain incriminating statements,” Cooney said. “He did express some anti-war feelings. We think that was at least partially his motivation.”
Monaghan was being held on $100,000 bond.
An envelope slipped into the recruiting station mailbox on Bedford Street Monday morning contained batteries and other “bomb-making components,” Cooney said.
The package was nearly identical to an envelope left at the same U.S. Army/U.S. Air Force station last months, police said.
Both bore “unusual writing” and were placed in the station’s mailbox, Cooney said.
The sad thing here is that he should have been more careful. Might have avoided being caught and the threat of up to ten years of prison time. Note to activists: direct action can be really effective. Do it in an organized and non-alcohol-influenced way, like these folks did.
The 19-year-old Bremerton man who slashed 42 government tires in retaliation of the Iraq war was charged with a Class B felony Monday in Kitsap County Superior Court.
Jason C. Chavez, currently a student at a Colorado college, was charged with first degree malicious mischief for causing more than $4,200 worth of damage to 13 government service vehicles that were parked in front of the U.S. Army recruiting business in Silverdale.
Vandalism to military recruiting offices and equipment is not uncommon, but Lt. Col. Kenneth Swanson, Seattle Army Recruiting Battalion Commander, said he was surprised by the magnitude of Chavez’s destruction.
“That’s not a protest, that’s an act of anarchy,” he said. “I hope Mr. Chavez gets his justice due under the Constitution that is protected by the U.S. Army.”
Just after midnight on July 29 Chavez was seen slashing tires in the parking lot along the 2800 block of Bucklin Hill Road. Witnesses called 911 to report a man dressed in black was slashing tires in front of the Army recruiting office with a knife.