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we screened Despierta Gigante! Giant Awake! as part of an effort to get UH students thinking about the immigrant rights movement. The strong turn out this year’s Mayday march is certainly influenced by the repressive and racist SB1070 legislation that was passed in Arizona, and reawakened immigrant rights activism across the country that has not been seen since the mass mobilizations in 2006 against HR4437. We are excited about the end of our semester and looking forward to pushing for immigrant rights over the summer and in the upcoming semester. [More photos on Houston Indymedia | Houston Indymedia feature | Houston Chronicle | UH’s El Gato] On May 5th, SDS participated in a protest of the Diamondback’s Astros baseball game that took place downtown in Minutemaid Park. As part of the national call to Boycott Arizona, the Arizona Diamondbacks coming to Houston was to important to miss, finals be damned! The owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks has been a longtime fundraiser for the Arizona republican party and continues to use the Diamondbacks to economically support the legislators who passes the SB1070 legislation. The protest was covered by The Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Associated Press story about the protest was picked up in many outlets, including ESPN. Eric of the FIRE Collective also took some great photos and wrote up a critical piece about the protest and where the movement to stop SB1070 might go from here.SDS at UH was able to mobilize a small number of students for UH to join the march of more than 6,000 people that took to the streets to celebrate mayday and demand immigrant rights, worker rights and comprehensive immigration reform. We participated and lead chants including “Education, Not Deportation”, and “Helado Si! Migra No!” (Ice Cream, Yes! Border Patrol, No!) On Thursday
From March 8th to March 12th, SDS at UH hosted a week of events in solidarity with Palestinian struggle as part of Israeli Apartheid Week. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the numerous groups and individuals that helped make this week of events possible, and thank everyone who participated in our panels and demonstrations as well as attended the events and spoke with us. This list will be incomplete, but we want to thank our Panelists; Adam, Sally, Busi, Nick, Brother Ester, and Gretta, as well as David at South Park Annex, Michelle in Industrial Design, Palestinians for Peace and Democracy, IEC Islamic Education Center, Amnesty International at UH (for being totally cool about us stealing their room by accident) and the dozens of students who helped us paint border walls, hand out fliers and attended our events. We bit off a lot with this week of events and feel like it came off very well, thanks to all of y’all!
This post starts with a recap of what we did with links to our documentation, and is followed by the press coverage that we received.
Here is a recap of what we did:
Due to technical dificulties, we lost the audio from Sally’s talk (Sorry Sally!!), but Adam’s talk is online here.
We handed out a flier with information about the wall being built in the west bank that is confiscating Palestinian land and dividing communities. We also staged some street theater stopping folks on their way to the library, and when they lacked the proper permits to visit the library, detaining them in front of the wall, this gained a lot of attention, and we got in a lot of conversations. We talked to folks that agreed with us 100%, folks who thought we were wrong and stupid, folks who had no idea about what was happening with the conflict, folks who were veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces, and folks who had a lot of misconceptions about the conflict based on what they had heard about the conflict from TV.
We feel that this event was very successful in raising awareness and discussions about Israel’s oppressive, apartheid policies and presenting our position and information to the UH audience. At least hundreds, more likely multiple thousands of people saw the wall that we constructed in the center of campus during the most busy part of the week. It clearly created a buzz on campus that people continued to talk about during the week. Houston Indymedia Coverage of the Border Wall and Street Theater
The full panel was recorded and is online here.
We chanted “Caterpillar you cant hide, you’re constructing apartheid” “Caterpillar – Human Killer” and “Demolition isn’t right, we wont die without a fight.” Most drivers seemed perplexed by the protest, but we got dozens of honks, one man actually parked in a lot hundreds of feet away and walked down the sidewalk to thank us for protesting against Caterpillar and to support justice for Palestinians.
We concluded the event by gathering and talking about Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was crushed to death by an Caterpillar bulldozer being driven by an Israeli soldier while trying to prevent a house demolition in the Gaza Strip. This upcoming Tuesday March 16th is the seven year anniversary of her death, and we read some of her writings aloud. We concluded by thanking everyone for coming, and having a victory dinner at a nearby Denny’s.
Caterpillar, Inc. continues to sell its D9 and D10 bulldozers to Israel where they are militarized and used to bulldoze homes, uproot olive trees, build the Apartheid Wall, and kill civilians. In addition to constituting violations of international law, of the US Arms Export Control Act and of its own corporate code of conduct, Caterpillar is playing a a special role in strengthening Israeli Apartheid and perpetuating injustice against Palestinians. [Flier on Caterpillar from US Campaign to End the Occupation (PDF)] Houston Indymedia Coverage of the Caterpillar Protest
“Last year, more than 40 cities participated in Israeli Apartheid Week, and this week, Students for a Democratic Society of UH are observing it in Houston.
Israel was established as a sovereign state in 1948, after the holocaust and World War II. As a result, Palestinians were forced to move out of their homes and into the West Bank and Gaza regions. This attracted much international attention, and the conflict is still going on today.
The week-long SDS events have included lectures, demonstrations and film screenings aimed at raising awareness about Israel’s controversial policies toward Palestinians and to gather support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.”
Read Full Article
Interesting hella critical coverage from the Jewish Herald Voice Newspaper:
From the Jewish Herald Voice
Houston’s largest institution of higher learning is the latest campus to be targeted by the anti-Israel propaganda campaign, “Israel Apartheid Week.”
On March 9, University of Houston students erected a mock-Israeli “apartheid wall” on Butler Plaza, in front of the central campus’ main library, during peak midday traffic time. The plywood display was scrawled with messages reading: “Boycott, Divest, Sanction”; “Right of Return”; and “Refugee of My Own Land.” The display also featured graphics showing maps, military aircraft, weapons and bloody handprints. Half-a-dozen participants approached passers-by with fliers and conversation.
Tuesday’s demonstration was part of a weeklong series of IAW programs at and through UH, planned for March 8 to 12. These programs, which also included planned lectures, a film screening and protest – all were organized by the UH chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.
Read Full Article
Jewish Herald Voice Followup:
Campus experts evaluate local IAW-responses
What: Protest! Free the Mambo 31!
Date: Friday, December 18, 2009
Time: 10:00am – 1:00pm
Location: Houston Processing Center – 5520 Greens Road
This event is endorsed by: Students for a Democratic Society at UH, La Raza Justice Movement, International Action Center, CRECEN/America Para Tod@s, Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center, doscentavos.net, Brother Jesse Blog, ournewanahuac.net
International Migrants Day is an international day observed on December 18th as International Migrants Day appointed by the General Assembly of United Nations on 4 December 2000 taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world. On 18 December, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families.
This day is observed in many countries, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations through the dissemination of information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure the protection of migrants. [Background: United Nations | Wikipedia]
Residents, students and supporters of Democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya will gather at the Honduran Consulate, 6161 Savoy Lane, Friday, July 3rd at 1 PM to demand his reinstatement as President.
On June 28, the elected President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped by the military at gun point and exiled to Costa Rica. Supported by the Supreme Court, the Congress has appointed Congress president Roberto Micheletti.
“The victims of this coup are the Honduran people who have had their electricity, water, and phone lines cut…I’m incredibly worried for the well-being of my family in Honduras because of an unstable military government. I want Zelaya to be reinstituted so that we can restore peace for the sake of those who are suffering and have done nothing wrong!” says a member of Students for a Democratic Society(SDS) and the University of Houston.
As supporters of democracy, SDS denounces the actions of School of the Americas graduate Romeo Vasquez. “Zelaya has massive support from the poor, trade unions and social movements. However the elite, which control the military, Supreme Court and Congress, oppose his push for change in one of Latin America’s poorest nations. The coup was carried out to prevent a non-binding referendum to take place that day on whether Hondurans wanted the opportunity to elect a constituent assembly to rewrite their constitution. The current constitution was introduced in 1982 at the height of the brutal US-backed military dictatorship” writes Eva Golinger, whose 2006 book The Chavez Code exposed the role of the US in the 2002 coup that briefly overthrew the democratically elected Venezuelan government.
Delfina Pei, also with SDS says, “if the coup were legitimate, they wouldn’t have closed down television stations and detained journalists. It is because the coup is illegitimate that they must take all necessary actions to silence the opposition.”
On June 20, 2009, over a hundred people traveled from the border region, the valley, the gulf coast and central Texas and met up with residents of Taylor to march on the T. Don Hutto Immigrant Family Detention Center to honor World Refugee Day. After the march from downtown Taylor, a vigil and rally was held outside the Center to demand immediate liberty for the children and families being held. Another demand was the closure of the Hutto facility, which is essentially a prison being privately run by the notorious CCA, Corrections Corporation of America.
Houston Indymedia: March and Vigil at Hutto Immigrant Family Dentention Center for World Refugee Day
News 8 Austin: Protesters ask President to shut down T. Don Hutto
Williamson County Sun: Hutto protests persist as contract is set to expire
On May 1st at 4pm around 70 people gathered in front of the Mickey Leeland Federal Building to host a rally for just immigration reform. People from the faith community offered prayers, a number of musicians sang, poets performed, and representatives from different community organizations spoke about their work, including SDS, who spoke about our work fighting immigrant detention for profit, and trying to shut down the T Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor Texas. [see photos from the rally]
May First is celebrated worldwide as international workers day, observing the struggle for the eight hour work day in Chicago and the Haymarket Martyrs, anarchist immigrant workers from Germany and Bohemia, as well as Albert Parsons from Texas. Protest for workers and immigrant right take place across the US and across the world on this day.
Around 20 youngsters from Houston joined Students for a Democratic Society of UH for a protest of the Houston Processing Center as part of the Campaign to End Family Detention. Other participating groups included Houston Anti-Racist Action, International Socialist Organization and whatever the RCP’s youth crew is going by these days.
The Houston Processing Center is the worlds first private prison, it was opened by the Corrections Corporation of America in 1984 in a motel after acquiring a contract from the INS to open up a detention center for people awaiting court hearings on immigration charges. The HPC now has 950 beds. In a quarter of a century the private prison industry has exploded with more than 250 private prisons in the USA. CCA has grown to a capacity a capacity of more than 80,000 beds in 65 correctional facilities.
Our protest started on Greens road where we were visible to traffic, we then marched while chanting and chatting to the visitors entrance on the south side of the facility. Many folks were there waiting on family members who were meeting with people detained inside. We rallied an chanted again and spoke with some of the folks there who shared some of their stories about the plight and stuggles of their loved ones in detention.
One SDS member spoke in detail of her experience with her family member in detention and shared stories about what daily life is like as well as her experiences dealing with non-existent educational facilities, medical neglect and the specific experiences of specific detainees at the HPC.
While the turnout was small and the press coverage was limited to the Daily Cougar (and Indymedia!) everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we are gearing up for more creative actions to try and raise attention and hopefully win some victories in the struggle to abolish prisons for profit and immigrant detention.
SDS of UH called for a protest of the T Don Hutto Family Detention Center on March 7th, more than 20 folks carpooled with us from Houston to Taylor, where we were joined by at least 30 other people to demand the end to family detention. This protest recieved a good deal of media coverage, and read below for our report:
The Daily Cougar: Group protests family jail
Workers World: Protest at jail for immigrant families
Houston Press/Hairballs: Groups Protest The “Lock Up the Immigrants” Facility
Houston Indymedia: Texans gather in Taylor to demand an end to Family Detention and closure of T Don Hutto
Around 50 people from Houston, Austin, College Station, Georgetown, Hutto and Taylor came to the T Don Hutto “Residential Center” to support the call put out by Students for a Democratic Society of UH to protest the detention of immigrant children and women for the profits of the Tennessee based Corrections Corporation of America.
Participating Groups (that we were aware of) included; Houston SDS, Houston Anti-Racist Action, Grassroots Leadership, LULAC, Brazos Valley Coalition Against War, Austin Labor Defense Project, Texans United for Families, Rice for Peace and the fearless A Scouts!
Folks that came to the rally decorated the driveway with chalk, chanted, held signs and banners, spoke to the rally and marched from the North (front) side of the facility to the east side, where we could see the playground behind the prison walls.
The event had high amounts of energy from young and old participants, and folks left feeling like the event was a success, and many (re)committed to continuing the struggle to end the incarceration of children and Shut Hutto Down!