Equal Access

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:

 

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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

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Portland School Board Unanimously Passes Equal Access Resolution

The Portland public school board passed an Equal Access resolution tonight (10/24/2011) with a unanimous vote.  The resolution will allow counter miltary recruiters to be present at school sponsored events any time miltary recruiters are present.   This is a significant victory for the War Resisters League and other Portland activists who have worked towards this goal for many years.  There was a solid show of support in the room with many people holding small signs reading "Equal Access" throughout the meeting.  While there was some testimony opposing the resolution, the school board members ultimately proved supportive of providing students with a balanced perspective on the realities of the military.  

Now that the resolution has passed and counter-recruitment groups have equal access to students, the real work of organizing people to be present at recruiting events begins.  We will be in need of volunteers to , so if you would like to be involved, please contact us.  We are especially interested in having veterans talk to students as their perspective on the realities of the miltary provides a powerful balance to the message of military recruiters. Thank you.

 

ACTION ALERT - Monday October 24th- Portland School Board To Vote On Equal Access Resolution

Military recruiter talking to kids

The Portland School Board is scheduled to vote this coming Monday (Oct. 24th) on a resolution to grant "equal access" to counter-recruitment groups.  The full text of the resolution is at the end of this post.  Currently all counter recruitment activities are banned from Portland public schools and this resolution would guarantee that counter-recruitment groups would have access to students on an equal footing with miltary recruiters.  The War Resisters League and other local activists have been pressing the school board on this matter for some time, and this resolution has a good chance of passing. There are no guarantees, of course. 

The passage of this resolution would go a long ways toward allowing groups such as the War Resisters League to present students with information about the realities of the military and alternatives to military enlistment.  As such, we would really like to pack the auditorium on Monday night to show that the community is behind equal access for counter-recruiters in our schools. We are encouraging a low key but solid show of support. We are planning to have lots of supporters holding small "equal access" signs throughout the auditorium.

So please do your best to show up, and bring a friend or two. The school board meeting begins at 5pm at the PPS administration building, 501 N. Dixon St. (2 blocks north of NE Broadway at the east end of the Broadway Bridge). The business agenda is scheduled to come up at about 6:30pm. We suggest you get there at least by 6pm.

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