Friday, April 4, 2008

Walkout Eyewitness Report

Walkout Eyewitness Report
By Adriel Bernal Tent State/SDS
I’d like to start by sending a big thank you to all of Tent State’s coalition partners who put in a lot of work to make the Walkout happen:
Arabic Cultural ClubBAKA – Students United for Middle Eastern JusticeCentral and South American AllianceFusionHuman Rights HouseLambda Theta AlphaThe Latino Student CouncilLLEGO (LGBTQQ People of Color Alliance)RadigalsRU ChoiceRutgers Against the War
The other big acknowledgement goes to everyone who came out to the Walkout this year. Without you guys putting all that energy and enthusiasm into the event, it couldn’t have been so successful. Special thanks to the photographers of that historic day whose excellent work appears in this article.
Anyone who visits the front page of can see just how huge of an event the Rutgers Walkout was last Thursday, March 27th. I saw between 600-800 people come out to the rally/march on Voorhees Mall to show their support for the troops and their opposition to the occupation of Iraq. The rally included speakers who were directly affected by the ongoing conflict. Gold Star mother for peace Sue Niederer spoke of the tragic loss of her son in the war, while Iraq Veteran Against the War (IVAW) member and Iraq vet Kristofer Goldsmith shared the perspective of fed-up soldiers on the ground.

After the rally we marched around campus, going through the downtown area of George Street to eventually reach the Exxon gas station for an impromptu sit-in with the banner “Arrest Exxon” unfurled. There Rutgers student and Tent State University/Students For a Democratic Society member Erik Straub took the megaphone and made the excellent point that the people who start wars aren’t the ones fighting them, it’s oil companies like Exxon who help create U.S. foreign policy by contributing millions of dollars to pro-war think tanks and politicians.

Upon reaching Douglass campus a democratic decision was made about what to do next: take Route 18! Shouting “whose streets, our streets!” we marched in traffic lanes with a police escort (much appreciated) and got many peace signs and supportive honks, although you can’t make everyone happy.

We got back to the rally starting point afterwards in order to have a speak-out with participants of the march and also make announcements. Unlike many protests I have attended, we did not end the march without giving people something to do afterwards. The ward campaign for democracy in New Brunswick was announced (website: which if successful will give city residents neighborhood-based representation instead of the current at-large system that is designed to allow the corrupt city machine run unopposed year after year.
If I haven’t made it clear enough: everything turned out really well and a lot of kids who have never been to a protest before really felt empowered by the experience. Apathy is a myth, people care they just need the right outlet to show it.
* **** Photos Courtesy of Adriel709 at Flickr
*Photos courtesy of Tom WP - KevCowiffle at Flickr

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