Student letter published in Portland Tribune

Aidan Rierson, one of the students who organized and participated in the protest of recruiters at Franklin High School on November 4th, had his letter to the editor published in the Portland Tribune on December 3.  The letter is a response to the misleading letter published on November 19th from Ernie Freund, the commander of the Portland Recruting Battalion.  The text of Aidan's letter is as follows:



Letter misrepresented Franklin protest

A recent letter ("Nonstudents disrupt Army recruiters," Nov. 19 Tribune) was littered with factual errors and misrepresentations.

I was the student who organized the action in question.  I am 16 years old and worked only with my peers, all of whom are under 18 and are students at Franklin High School.  The claim that "10 unidentified 20-year-olds" participated is simply not true, as well as the implication that we were armed or that we are criminals.

It is true that we distributed materials to our peers after they had spoken with recruiters.  Those materials did contain historically accurate images of war, such as the Pulitzer-Prize winning "Napalm Girl" photograph.  We chose to use these images of crimes the U.S. military has committed to show our peers what they could be signing up to do.  We also held up a sign that stated our belief that any organization that finds it fitting to use nuclear weapons on civilians should be labeled as terrorists, based on the definition of "using terror in pursuit of political aims."

The claims that we initimidated students or bullied anyone with military families are incorrect.  No students were approached in an aggressive manner, nor were insults uttered.  We were there to exercise our First Amendment rights and nothing more and believe that we have the right to discuss issues that impact the welfare of our peers.  It saddens me that  my peers and I are being attacked for expressing our pro-peace views.

Aidan Rierson
Southeast Portland