Youth, community confront recruiting station

Published Nov 26, 2006 10:02 AM

Over 70 youth, students, and community members marched and rallied Nov. 15 against the first U.S. Army recruiting station to open in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Anti-war and counter-recruitment activists marched two miles from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus to the new recruiting station at 1502 E. Franklin St., led by a banner which read, “Army recruiters out.” UNC-Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was the primary organizer of the demonstration.

The rally outside the station consisted of speeches by members of FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) and SDS, as well as representatives from Feminist Students United and NC Choices, a Quaker group which advocates choices for young people after high school other than the military. Speakers focused on topics such as sexual violence in the military, the ongoing occupation of Iraq, and cuts in funding for educational opportunities. Speakers highlighted the fact that over a third of women in the military report experiencing sexual assault and that reports have been filed against over 100 recruiters for sexually assaulting and harassing young women.

In response to the youth and community demonstration, the military mobilized eight World War II and Korean War veterans, dressed in uniforms and military decorations. They continually harassed demonstrators, yelling racist, anti-gay and sexist slurs at speakers and protestors alike. While the veterans’ appearance at the demonstration was unexpected, the protestors were unfazed and organizers called the rally “an unconditional success.”

This recruiting station will be the target of a continuing fight from youth and student activists, who vow to end the targeting of youths in their community, especially poor youths and youths of color. “We won’t allow the military to come into our community and practice the same deceptive and racist tactics they have practiced for so long in other communities,” said FIST member Dante Strobino. “This struggle is just beginning and we won’t stop until military recruiters leave our town.”

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