los angeles

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


Report February 15th in Los Angeles - Day of National Resistance Against Military's Aggressive
Targeting of Youth to Fight this Illegal and Immoral War.

A group of over 30 people gathered in front of the Hollywood Armed Forces Recruiting Station, prompting the early closure that day of this entry to the killing machine. It was quickly redecorated with a “Stop Torture” banner that accurately captured what people are being recruited for, and WCW posters.

Fernando Suarez del Solar, Guerrero Azteca Project, and Maria Guardado, Salvadoran torture survivor and activist.

Ages ranged from 4 month-old Jake in his “Stop Wars” t-shirt to grandmother Mary who was all decked-out in orange. Two people who have been regularly attending actions in their orange jumpsuits and chains again sharpened the debate with the graphic image that they create. A torture survivor/activist from El Salvador held a placard that read “Stop Torture” with the stenciled images of 2 Guantanamo detainees in the graffiti style of Banksy. Two ninth-graders from a nearby high school came; one had also joined us for the Orange Alert in November & this time wore an orange jumpsuit and found it quite unnerving. They wondered where everyone else from school was since a lot of students wore the orange flagging tape, some for the day, some for months.* (priority for us: have more presentations in schools leading up to March 19th) Half a dozen enthusiastic college students were sent by their professor to document the action through photos, video and written word for their campus Chicano publication, interviewing a number of people in depth, including Fernando Suarez del Solar, who started the Guerrero Azteca Peace Project, after his son, Luis, became the first Latino to die in the unjust war in Iraq. He held a sign with a photo of Luis and the words “Bush Lied, My Son Died”. Representatives from Answer-LA, CodePink-LA, and Coalition for World Peace spoke in solidarity with the actions taking place around the country. World Can’t Wait-LA read the statement from Debra Sweet and led the great chants that Berkeley had developed. Then we took off led by 2 jumpsuited “detainees” for a march down Hollywood Blvd. to reach out to the crowds there. At a busy intersection Fernando spoke on the bullhorn - first in Spanish and then in English - he called on people to resist enlisting in this illegal war, linking the government that raids and breaks families apart, is murdering the people in Iraq. A group of people gathered around, listening. We chanted, passed out flyers, and challenged people to take a stand, bringing out that if they hate the war, torture, theocracy, etc., but don’t speak, then they are complicit in these crimes.

Photo credit:  Nelson Lemus,
CSUN Sundial, 2/20/08

Response was mixed, some actually laughed at seeing the orange suited detainees and we sharply responded, do you think torture is a joke? Is waterboarding a joke? Many of them were silent after that. One of the strongest responses we got was a Latino middle-aged couple – the woman thanked and applauded us.

Today’s action whetted people’s appetites to continue these efforts, as part of mobilizing people outside the electoral box to stop the war and the whole direction that the Bush regime and the complicit Democrats are taking things. People are anxious to build for the March actions.

Media: Ch. 62 Azteca Television, Spanish language TV, sent a reporter and cameraman to cover the protest. The reporter was surprised to learn that funding under No Child Left Behind mandated that schools turn over names and addresses of high school students to recruiters. She wanted to inform parents of the opt out clause and asked what we hoped to achieve by being out at the recruitment centers. Our response, “Stop recruiting our young people to fight an illegal and criminal war. These centers are part of the military institution which is carrying out war crimes in our names”.

Earlier that afternoon, two of us were interviewed for KPFK radio evening news, so the LA and national actions were reported on that night on English and Spanish language news, in the midst of the intense fundraising drive at the station.

The college students’ publication will feature an article next month on war resisters and conscientious objectors.

* Report from high school organizer:

Announcements were made in two classrooms on Thursday where a teacher said that one of his friend’s sons had been harassed by recruiters, to the point where the recruiter gave the student a ride home, invited himself in, and tried to force the parents into releasing their 17-year old son to the army when he turns 18. The parents didn’t give in – a small victory, but how often is that happening?

On Friday, an ex-military guy said he was against the war, but supported the military and the need to fill its ranks by recruiting these youth. He started shouting me down, creating an atmosphere of confusion. Students were running back and forth to find out what we were saying. Several students took him on (in a very casual way). There were a lot of questions about how we can make change...breaking through the elections framework (with several students I've met before), thinking about this challenging but necessary "mission of our generation".