PRESS RELEASE: Philadelphia Students Demonstrate Against War on Iraq

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=============PRESS RELEASE=============

What: Student strike against war on IraqWhen: Wednesday, March 5thWho: Philadelphia-area youth and students

More information: or [email protected]: Ivan Boothe, 267.496.6819Contacts at individual schools are available

PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCILPERSON ANGEL ORTIZ TO SPEAK AT YOUTH ANTI-WAR RALLYStudents also planning walk-outs, civil disobedience to protest a war on Iraq

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 28 — Youth and students from around the Philadelphia area will strike in protest of a war on Iraq and the resulting drain on educational funds on Wednesday, March 5. Philadelphia city councilperson Angel Ortiz, author of the city’s successful resolution against war in Iraq, will give the keynote address at a mass rally to be held at 4:00 pm at City Hall.

“President Bush wants us to believe that it is unpatriotic to oppose this war. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, it is unpatriotic to derail democracy,” Ortiz said following the passage of the anti-war bill.

In addition to the Center City rally, organized by the coalition Youth Philadelphia Area War Resistance (Youth PAWR), local schools are planning a host of activities to mark the day. City-wide civil disobedience sponsored by the Iraq Pledge of Resistance will take place in the early afternoon, and several high schools are set for walk-outs in protest of the possible war. A 10:00 am event at the Philadelphia Art Museum, “Artists Not Fit for the White House,” will highlight opposition to the war through spoken word, music, theatre, and the visual arts. Suburban colleges are hosting debates and fora on the issues surrounding Iraq, and students from several schools will “stand for peace” throughout their classes on Wednesday.

The events on March 5 are in response to a national call for student action, put out by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition and supported by the Not In Our Name project. Youth PAWR is the local coordination group, with participants from at least 20 area high schools and universities.

“Like the protests on Feb. 15, the student strike on March 5 is being taken up by students and youth all over the United States and the world,” said Jason Fults, national coordinator for the Student Environmental Action Coalition. “We stand united globally in our opposition to this war.” SEAC is a member organization of the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition and Youth PAWR.

Coalescing across ethnic, socioeconomic and ideological lines, students are protesting the massive military buildup in the face of increasing cuts in education on the federal and state levels. “The Bush administration is intent on plunging the United States into an illegitimate and pre-emptive war that will only increase danger for Americans, Iraqis and the people of the world,” said Ben Waxman, a high school student. “At the same time, education, healthcare, and the economy are being neglected.”

This unjust war, organizers say, will not only result in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians but will also cause state deficits to skyrocket, resulting in mounting tuition bills and underfunded, crumbling schools. Invasions of students’ privacy and violations of their constitutional rights under the USA-PATRIOT Act and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System are now commonplace, as young people across the country are arrested for their political beliefs or their country of origin. Here in Philadelphia, they say, local officials are more interested in fomenting militarism and violence in our schools through mandatory JROTC programs than educating the youth of our city.

“Those who are questioning these acts need to see just how many people oppose this unjust war and join us in calling for peace with Iraq and the world,” Temple student Leah Hilsey explained. “It is crucial that the youth of this nation step up.”

Youth PAWR challenges the United States government to pursue diplomatic, peaceful negotiations with Iraq and North Korea, calls on the Philadelphia City Council to commit to preserving civil rights by supporting Ortiz’s bill establishing Philadelphia as a “civil liberties safe zone,” and demands that the Philadelphia School District scuttle its proposal for JROTC.

Youth PAWR encourages all students and youth from the area to join them in the rally for peace and justice at 4:00 pm next Wednesday.


Schools organizing for March 5 (list under development): Art Institute of Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr College, Chestnut Hill College, Community College of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Eastern University, Friends Central High School, Friends Select High School, Haverford College, Springfield Township High School, Strath Haven High School, Swarthmore College, Temple University, University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Upper Darby High School, Villanova University, and many concerned youth from the Philadelphia area.