Young Communists march to stop war

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Chanting “No blood for oil,” “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more,” 150 participants in the Young Communist League (YCL) convention here held a spirited roadside march and rally, Nov. 23, opposing war on Iraq. The action drew frequent honks of support from passing motorists along the busy suburban road near the YCL’s convention hall.

A diverse group of young people from as far away as California, Texas, Virginia and Rhode Island kept a brisk pace along the chilly half-mile route behind banners reading “No Money for War,” “No to Terrorism, No to War,” and “We Won’t Stop Til There’s Unity and Peace.” Many passing drivers smiled, waved and beeped their horns, as the lively group perked up their steps with chants like “Stop! Drop! We don’t wanna war on Iraq! Oh! No! Bush has gotta go!”

Local police stopped the march from proceeding over an expressway, where the group had planned to display a banner opposing war on Iraq. Unfazed, the young people rallied on a busy street corner instead.

Jo’ie Taylor, president of the United States Student Association, told the rally students will continue to be the voice of dissent, and young people are not willing to give the Bush administration a “blank check” in the name of homeland security. Challenging the Bush administration’s definitions, she declared, “Education, health, reproductive rights are homeland security, racial profiling is terrorism against our people.” Hunter College student Tamieka Byer from the Student Liberation Action Movement, which is battling proposed tuition increases at the overwhelmingly working-class City University of New York campus, said, “We know tuition hikes and war are directly linked.” Money should go to education, not war, said Erica Smiley, coordinator of the Black Radical Congress Youth Caucus.

Chicago peace activist Sarah Staggs, who also chairs the Communist Party’s peace and solidarity commission, greeted the marchers, saying though the police stopped the group from going to the expressway, “they cannot stop our message from getting out.” Communist Party Vice Chair Evelina Alarcon told the young people it is not up to our government to determine the governments of other countries, and parents don’t want their children to be sacrificed for the Bush administration’s imperial aims.

Ganen Gazawi, representing the YCL of Israel, one of several international guests at the convention, told the rally young people of both Israel and the U.S. need “money for education, not for occupation and war.”

“This war has nothing to do with our youth,” said YCL member Docia Buffington. “We are the people who are expected to fight, who are paying the cost.”

The march and rally was part of the YCL’s 7th national convention. (See related story.)

The author can be reached at suewebb@pww.org.