LAS CRUCES, N.M.: Hundreds defend immigrant workers

Chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Minutemen have got to go,” rang through the downtown here, July 23, as hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators marched to evict the “Minuteman Civil Defense Corps,” which announced that it will patrol the Mexican border in October.

Elected officials from Texas and New Mexico, including state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, the Democratic majority whip in the New Mexico Senate, joined the march. At a rally following the demonstration, Garcia called on the federal government to halt the Minuteman vigilantes and work for “real” reform of immigration laws.

“It’s a racist organization, there is no question,” said Jamie Martinez, treasurer of the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the march organizers.

TUCSON, Ariz.: Raging Grannies busted at Army recruiting station

The Raging Grannies were cited for misdemeanor trespass July 13 at the Tucson Army Recruiting Station after delivering a couple of songs and a statement of their intent to enlist. The Grannies, comprised of women activists of unknown ages, wanted to speak out on military recruitment and the illegal, immoral Iraq war.

“We are at the end of our lives. These recruiters are stealing our children and grandchildren who are at the beginning of theirs. These young people are the future of our communities and our world and we don’t want their lives and our futures wasted in a war of lies,” said Granny Carolyn Trowbridge, who has a son in the Naval Reserves and three grandchildren.

The grannies urged the Army to accept them and hoped they could meet with their counterparts (grandmothers) in Iraq to work out ending the occupation. The Army refused the grannies, much to their surprise. “Army recruitment is down. I am surprised they didn’t accept us,” one granny said.

As the grannies left the station, the Tucson police showed up and cited them. They were fingered by the Army recruiter.

NEW YORK, N.Y.: Vets to gov’t — Release Abu Ghraib photos

Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a nonpartisan veterans organization with 12,000 members, released a letter July 25 addressed to Congress demanding full public airing of new photos from Abu Ghraib and the creation of a commission to investigate torture at the U.S. prison in Iraq and other U.S.-run facilities around the world. More than 2,000 veterans signed the letter, including five flag rank (a high-level naval designation) officers and 200 commissioned officers.

“Once again the administration is fighting to prevent any possible public accountability for its policies, instead choosing to blame it all on the troops,” said VCS Executive Director Charles Sheehan-Miles, a 1991 Gulf War vet. “The Pentagon is doing everything it can to prevent the release of these graphic images because they know that if the U.S. public were to see the true scope of the abuses, the demand for an independent investigation would be too strong to be ignored.”

Torture, the veterans said, “has a demoralizing, dehumanizing effect not only on those subject to violations, but also on our own troops.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Teach Wal-Mart a lesson

With TV and newspapers already running “back to school” sales ads, the AFL-CIO is calling on parents to take the pledge and shop anywhere but Wal-Mart. A link at the labor federation’s web site,, enables parents to send a protest note directly to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott.

Why pick on Wal-Mart? In 2004, Wal-Mart raked in $10 billion in profits while paying minimum wage with no health care to over 600,000 U.S. workers. According to Business Week, Wal-Mart leads the pack of corporations that force workers onto state funded health care to provide for their families. Honduran clothing workers, whose main customer is Wal-Mart, are paid $35 a week for sewing sleeves onto 1,200 shirts a day. CEO Scott took home $23 million in 2004.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: SCLC opens convention

Over 8,000 civil rights activists are expected to attend the 48th annual Southern Christian Leadership (SCLC) conference here July 30.

Based in the South, the SCLC was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957 and led the nonviolent protests that ended Jim Crow segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

SCLC President Charles Steele Jr. told reporters, “For us Birmingham is the ideal location for this year’s conference because it is significant for so many reasons in the history and struggle of the movement.” SCLC’s goals, he said, are equality, voter education/protection and economic development in the U.S.

Clips are complied by Denise Winebrenner Edwards ( Michael Kaplan and Carolyn Dunn-Whelan contributed to this week’s clips.