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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: DNC
Worcester Students Protest "Spirit of America" Tour
10 Sep 2004
A Synopsis of Today's Events
I arrived at the Worcester Centrum with a contingent of Clark students around 930 that morning, and the peace presence was already quite conspicuous, “who would Jesus bomb”, etc. A Marines jeep sat on the sidewalk, with a phone number stenciled on the side for those hoping to “secure [their] futures” in the military. Recruiters in full attire greeted the students in the lobby of the Centrum, passing out pamphlets on all the so-called benefits that accompany military service, and imploring them to sign up.

Lacking a live-action laser show extravaganza of our own, we assembled peacefully on the sidewalk, armed with pamphlets about the risks of military service and instructions on preventing your personal information from being disclosed to military recruiters. This, it seems, was not entirely cool.

One officer, who could consistently be found two feet from my group for the duration of the event, quickly confronted me when I approached the children with my flyers.

“You can’t do that here” he said, shaking his head disapprovingly and pointing.
“I can’t do what?”
“You can’t obstruct traffic, let’s go”

I politely reminded the officer that I have the right to flyer on public property, and informed him that as long as I didn’t obstruct anything, I was going to continue to exercise the right. I stood as far back from the incoming students as I could, arm outstretched with a pamphlet, as he looked on disapprovingly.

Students came from varying directions towards the entrance, and when another group came from behind us, we proceeded to approach the line and flyer. Eventually, one officer (who seemed relatively legitimate and courteous) politely asked us to back up because we were on private property, and we complied. This would be the first of three times we were accused of congesting the sidewalk.

After the initial tension with the police, the general mood seemed to relax a bit as it became apparent that we weren’t antagonists. Some of the kids were receptive, others were belligerent, but generally they seemed ambivalent towards the entire spectacle, not unusual for middle-schoolers on a field trip.

The teachers were also a mixed bag. Some took flyers, thanked us for coming out, or gave a thumbs up. Others were not as affable:
As the radical cheerleaders were performing for some of the queuing students, one teacher, a short woman, seemed particularly freaked out.
“DON’T LOOK AT THEM” she insisted, drawing each word out for its full re-education camp effect. “DON’T…LOOK…AT THEM.” This, of course, egged on the protestors to a considerable degree.

“Be careful in there – they’re lying a little bit!” “Dude, if you go to war, it will be so awesome” et al. The woman eventually stopped telling students to ignore us.

Other teachers confiscated literature that the students took and harassed protestors. In one instance, a teacher accepted some of our flyers, and sardonically replied “Oh, this is wonderful, we’re doing a study on propaganda in my class!” to which the student (predictably) replied “Oh, well then you’ve come to the right place, huh?”

I think I found the teachers reactions to be the most unnerving aspect of the event. Its certainly one thing for the military to lie and aggrandize itself, but for teachers (those who are supposedly nourishing a child’s intellectual curiosity and promoting their self-interests) to willfully disallow their students from receiving information on preserving their own privacy is deplorable.

I also spoke to School Committee Member Joe O’Brien, who told me that, as recruitment literature was being distributed at the event, it was legally a recruitment event, and thus peace groups potentially had the legal right to equal time. Some were discussing a field trip to the Peace Abbey or other similar ideas. Anyone who is interested in countering this diet of militarism should attend the Worcester School Committee meeting this Thursday night (I’m unsure of the time, isn’t that terrible) and vocalize your support.

Thanks to everyone that came out, it was totally rockin’.

workBUYconsumeDIE (at)

This work is in the public domain