Merced Rocks Against the War
By Mike Rhodes
April 15, 2005
Students For Social Justice at Merced College held an event today featuring anti-war speakers, spoken word artists, and musicians. Students, faculty, and some community members gathered at the campus amphitheater and listened to the first speaker, Forrest Schmidt from the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. Schmidt called on the audience to organize to stop the unjust and immoral war in Iraq.
People were urged to attend the Saturday, April 30 rally that will happen in San Francisco featuring speaker Ramsey Clark. The event will take place at Mission High School in San Francisco, 3750 18th Street and starts at 7 PM. April 30 is the 30th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam. The theme of the rally is: Defend Social Security! Money for People’s Needs —Not War & Occupation!
As Schmidt spoke the Army was recruiting students at this small working class college. While the anti war rally was assigned to the amphitheater on the fringe of the campus, the Army was given a prime location in the center of the school, next to the student union. A climbing wall was set up, posters were on display, and recruiters were engaging students as they walked by. One recruiter was heard cajoling a young Chicana student to "take a test" so she could be all she could be. When she said she didn’t have time to take the test the recruiter said he would "track her down." She ended up being handed an Army laptop and being practically forced into taking the aptitude test.
Back at the peace rally spoken word was entertaining the crowd. Earl Henderson, an educator from Planned Parenthood offered this:
"Too many babies in dirty diapers, ten year old boys aren't at school they sit on the roof like pied pipers. This whole scenery I wish that I could scramble it. the cause and effect implications flood my mind the subject grows more scandalous. America! how can this happen in beautiful America? I don't even want to know who's fault it is that government housing is founded on a fault a structure that has termites by default, or who takes the shame for the lead paint that stifles my Childs intellect holding out to the death comes to my mind taking my impulses back like rewinded retrospect. Hey Mr., Man my method is gladness your looking for madness I want to touch your mind to make you see as if you had this problem of roaches and rampant drug dealing right outside your door I cant tell what most people are living or fighting for it's all run down occupied ghost towns these communities are located coast to coast look how the ruptured plumbing lines need attention right now. And the city's all run down."
As the spoken word artists stepped off the stage, a faculty member spoke. He said he was a former marine and was strongly against the war in Iraq. As he spoke several police cars pulled up to the side of the stage. Menacing looking officers gathered in a circle and pointed at the stage. The speaker said we had a right to be there and that the audience needed to stand up for peace and their right to protest the war. The police, some uniformed and others in civilian clothes (but with weapons clearly visible) surrounded the site. There was a tension as the speaker finished his talk and moved to the back of the stage. Law enforcement confirmed with this Indymedia reporter that they had heard a rumor that someone was going to burn a U.S. flag at the event. They were not there to defend that persons First Amendment right to Free Speech.
Life returned to normal as the punk rock band Richie Daggers came on stage and rocked Merced for the next half hour. They were followed by The Trespassers, out of Mariposa playing folk music. Several community groups set up literature tables - Planned Parenthood, The Labor Party, and a group promoting safe drug use.
For more information about Students for Social Justice in Merced, contact their president Jason Flores at (209)383-1312.