los angeles

E-mail: worldcantwait_la@yahoo.com
Phone: 866.973.4463


The Battle at Belmont High—Bush Must Go! Geovany Must Stay!

      In the run-up to November 2nd, a day that will go down in history as the Beginning of the End of the Bush Regime, Belmont High School student Geovany Serrano took up the call from The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! in a big way. His fellow students have since attested to the vital leading role he played in organizing students for the N2 walkouts.

      One student said that, thanks to Geovany’s bold efforts, she observed a surprising and uplifting scene at nutrition one day. During the break, everywhere she looked, all the students were reading the flyer and getting into it. This was truly an inspiring sight—students learning about the world and taking up the battle to change the course of history.

The Authorities Move to Stop the Movement

      On November 1st, school officials decided to do something about this “problem”—namely, a flowering of critical thought and resistance to the Bush program. The campus police viciously attacked Geovany for distributing WCW flyers and stickers, taking him down and dousing his head with pepper spray. One student said that, as a number of police had converged on the scene very quickly, the police moved immediately to clear out any potential witnesses from the “rotunda” on campus where this grim scene of police brutality went down. A teacher at Belmont said that the main officer involved is known to be “pushy” with the students.

      Here I’ll just add that these cops are from the Ramparts Division—and anybody who knows anything about brazen police brutality and fabrication of police reports knows that Ramparts is at the head of the class. Should we “take their word” on what happened there, as the school authorities so unquestioningly—and, frankly, vengefully—have? HELL NO! We intend to defeat the bogus, and quite serious, criminal charges the police have put on him! We won’t let them flip reality on its head, painting Geovany as a criminal, when the real criminals in the world, those comprising the Bush Regime, are moving this society each day closer to a hateful, Christian fundamentalist theocracy that wages unending war and commits unspeakable atrocities against the people of the world!

      Beyond the criminal charges being pressed against Geo, the school suspended him for at least 2 days and threatened him with expulsion or an “Opportunity Transfer (OT)” where he’d be sent to another school within the LA Unified School District (LAUSD).

The Students Stay Strong in the Face of Repression

      Despite their efforts to crush this burgeoning student movement, dozens of determined students from Belmont High took part in the November 2nd walkouts and marched to the Alvarado & Wilshire (McArthur Park) convergence and rally point! One student excitedly reported that a supportive teacher said that almost all of his classes were empty throughout the day.

      As the festivities were getting underway at McArthur Park (where hundreds of brave students from all across LA celebrated, listening to music and speeches), Geovany and his mother came by in a police car, returning home from the juvenile detention facility where he’d been booked. He was made to wear an electronic monitoring anklet and his home telephone was rigged with an electronic surveillance box that squaks “hang up the phone” when Geovany’s been on the phone for any period of time. (As an aside, his mom is so repulsed—and scared—by this phone box that she keeps it hidden in a drawer and out of sight!)

      He was able to see the protests underway as he went by and he raised a fist in salute to the courageous students in the park. He discovered when he got home that he was able to see the action in the park from his building and he took great heart in this inspiring sight and wished he could be out there.

Further Reprisals Against the Students

      When students returned to Belmont High on November 3rd, those who had participated in the walkout were called to the office to get a re-admit slip to their classes. When they got there, police officers were waiting and wrote them truancy tickets! Here we can see the sickening way in which the school officials and police work hand-in-glove to criminalize and punish these students.

      On Friday, Nov. 4th Geo had a juvenile court hearing to set a pre-plea court date and to officially tell him what charges are being pressed against him. He was also assigned a public defender. He was hit with heavy charges and he was given a pre-plea court date of December 14th, 2005. His public defender requested that he be taken off house arrest in the meantime, citing his exemplary status as a student with terrific grades and impeccable attendance and the fact that this was his first contact with law enforcement, but he was denied.

The Fight for the Future Rages On

      On Monday, Nov. 7th the Assistant Principal called for a meeting with Geovany and his mother to discuss the punitive measures that the school would be taking against him. The local World Can’t Wait! youth and student committee mobilized to rally students and others to take up Geo’s defense and demand that he not be punished for building a student movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime. Some of the students had heard about his situation and others were just learning for the first time, but all were totally outraged!

      By this time, another lawyer had stepped forward to fight on Geo’s side and one of his former teachers came to speak on his behalf. Additionally, several of the students we spoke to outside of the school left their classes and came to the principal’s office to voice their support. They said that what the school authorities and police are doing to Geo and accusing him of is complete bullshit. In the meeting, the assistant principal and campus security and police had a hard time getting their story together. One thing that marked the whole proceedings, from their standpoint, was the automatic assumption of Geo’s guilt.

      They put forward as the unquestionable truth that Geo had initiated this whole incident, but later admitted that the officers physically detained Geo, themselves initiating the contact. They claimed that they thought Geo might not have been a student and thus went after him. But what they didn’t speak to—and what has become clear in this and other cases around LAUSD, and the country—is that this was a blatant attempt to silence the political (constitutionally protected) free speech rights of students. Another student reported that he and his friends admired Geo’s boldness in fighting for this cause because they had been threatened by the campus police for wearing the Resist or Die! stickers. But Geo would not let them intimidate him from doing what he knew was right!

      The school officials refused to budge from their position and insisted that an Opportunity Transfer be imposed on Geo. Despite the climate of persecution he faced at Belmont, Geo wants to continue going to school there. And we are determined that this OT be overturned! (Oh, here’s an additional outrage: during the meeting, the school officials actually claimed that the officer who assaulted Geo was “fearful” of Geo’s return, and therefore, Geo has to go! How about shipping out the brutal police who beat up and pepper spray the students—not their victims?!

The Students Strike Back

      On Tuesday, Nov. 8th a crew of World Can’t Wait youth & student organizers went out to Belmont High at 7:00am. By this time, the word about Geo had spread pretty far and we put out the slogan: “Bush Must Go! Geovany Must Stay!” We took a bullhorn, WCW posters, leaflets and stickers and we pulled together a mass of about 30 students on the spot out in front of the main entrance to the school who were defiantly chanting this slogan. School security and officials soon emerged, yelling at the growing mass of student resisters, “Don’t let them use you!” and telling some of us organizers that “These students don’t know anything about what’s going on in the world!”

      One of the school deans came out with a video camera and was intimidating the students with penalties, saying “we know who you are.” The students were anything but deterred! The first bell rang at 7:36am and by this time there were 40 or so students who decided that this was more important than going to class. After a while some LAPD showed up and tried to tell us that we were disrupting classes and that they would have to arrest us if we continued. We said, “good, the classes should be disrupted since the Bush Regime is disrupting the future of the planet and its inhabitants.” Overhead, students poked their heads and fists out of classroom windows to show their solidarity with the protest.

      We continued to rally in front of the school for a while longer and then we began marching around the campus grounds, calling on students to, “Join Us! Join Us!” and “Outta your class and into the streets! The World Can’t Wait!” and, of course “Bush Must Go! Geovany Must Stay!” continued to set the tone for the day. On a couple of occasions, as we marched around the campus, students ran to the gates that held them in and scaled them to join us. Everybody cheered triumphantly!

      It just so happened that one of the local ACLU offices is located in close proximity to Belmont, so we polled students to see if they wanted to march over there. We explained that the ACLU had yet to take up the defense of the students who walked out on Nov. 2nd and that we wanted to go make as compelling a case as possible for them to take this up urgently—and what better way to do it than for the students themselves to march to the offices and demand their assistance?!! The students were all for it!

      When we got to the ACLU they said that they were “too busy” to take this up and instead referred us to some other lawyers! It turned out that one of the students is a card-carrying member of the ACLU and he (among others) was outraged at their response. (Since then, he’s received a call from someone at the ACLU who is interested in learning more about Geo’s case, based on a written report he submitted that day at the office.) We left the office a little disappointed, but still determined to keep marching.

      From there, we did another route around the campus and more students came to join us. There was even an off-track teacher from Belmont who hooked up with us. He also had connections at the local Pacifica station and got some of the students on the air for the midday news. We wanted to get the word out more broadly, so we decided to march downtown to the Business Magnet High School there. This was another school where N2 walkouts had taken place.

      When we got there, escorted by legions of police cruisers along the way, the school had been sealed off and all we could see was a handful of school officials who had come outside to smirk at us. We chanted as loud as we could, but the students either couldn’t hear us or were being kept from joining us. We got lots of love from the passing cars, pumping fists and honking horns, and many people hurriedly passed donations out their windows when we took donation cans to them.

      Finally, we decided to march back to Belmont. Students were clearly being kept from exiting the school grounds by lockdown and by police intimidation. One aide from the campus, who also volunteers with the local Pacifica station was arrested by the LAPD because he had been going in and out of the school to talk to students. He had joined the march earlier and got taken by the police when he strayed from the crowd. The students took the street and surrounded the car, chanting “Let him go! Let him go!” but it was too late.

      Before we finished, we asked students what they thought the next step should be. Some thought there should be a campus group that takes this up and others said that they wanted to do this every day until Geo’s let back onto campus. We decided to break up and head out for the day. Students agreed that not returning to school for the rest of the day was the best idea. So we all walked down to a nearby major intersection and made sure that everyone had friends to walk with. Then everyone went their separate ways. We later learned that a group of the students went to a local restaurant to eat lunch and were swarmed with police who came screeching up in their cars and stormed the restaurant. The students were handcuffed and taken back to school, where they were ticketed!

The Struggle Continues

      In the wake of the big day of protest on Tuesday, Geo received a letter from the Assistant Principal stating that he is entitled to an appeals process for the OT, but that the Assistant Principal would not hear it. Instead, he referred him to a LAUSD board member. We will be taking up this battle, to get Geo fully reinstated at Belmont. In the meantime, beginning on Wednesday, Geo started taking classes at Marshall High (another school where students walked out on the 2nd!). On his first day there, the principal told him that, “you won’t be passing out any flyers here.”(!!!) On Thursday, he wasn’t allowed into school there because he brought a water bill, and not a gas bill, as proof of residence.

      We returned to Belmont on Wednesday and Thursday and found that the school had been converted into a full-fledged prison. There were anywhere between 6 and 10 police cruisers parked directly in front of the school and another 3 or 4 actively patrolling the periphery. They stepped up their threats against both the organizers and the students. There were many students who wanted to walk out, but were thwarted at every turn. Organizers were threatened with tickets for “loitering” and told (LIES) that they weren’t allowed to pass out leaflets to the students.

      On Thursday, one of the WCW organizers was arrested when they were IDed and found to have a minor warrant. This is complete bullshit because the police had no right to stop them in the first place! When they ran the ID checks on the organizers, they told them that they’re “not allowed to pass out pornography to the students”! The police dragged this whole process out as long as they could to keep the organizers from interacting with the students. After they arrested and hauled off one organizer, they told another that they had to leave and that if they were seen around the campus again, they would be arrested on-sight!

      The students are beside themselves about this whole situation and determined to take this struggle to a whole other level. Everyone reading this should be outraged, too! Call the school officials listed below (and also contacts in the media, the academic and legal communities and beyond) and make the following demands:


Call School Principal Gary Yoshinobu at: PHONE - (213) 250-0244, FAX - (213) 250-9706 or email: gary.yoshinobu@lausd.net