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Santa Cruz Anti-war Activists Close Military Recruiting Center

Over a hundred people rallied outside of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Capitola to express their opposition to the impending threat of a United States invasion of Iraq. Part of the National Moratorium to Stop the War on Iraq, today’s action marked the first coordinated effort at a worldwide day of non-violent direct action to resist war.
Over a hundred people rallied outside of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Capitola to express their opposition to the impending threat of a United States invasion of Iraq. Part of the National Moratorium to Stop the War on Iraq, today’s action marked the first coordinated effort at a worldwide day of non-violent direct action to resist war.

Local activist and religious leader Sharon Delgado declared the action a success, noting, “We shut them down. The police informed the recruiting officers that maybe today would be a good day to take the day off. We’re glad that they joined us by taking the day off on this international day of action.”

Demonstrators ranged in age from high school students to a contingent of the Santa Cruz Raging Grannies. Chanting “Support our soldiers, bring them home,” the rally spilled out of the stairs and onto the sidewalk, where motorists were greeted by an activist wearing a death mask while holding red stained, mangled dolls - a graphic reminder that it is children who are often the “collateral damage” of war.

“We spend billions of dollars every year to convince our sons and daughters to kill other sons and daughters,” said April Burns, a clear reference to the slick posters and Madison Avenue ad campaigns used by the military to convince young people to sign up.

A large banner that read “Help Prevent Mass Destruction. Honk for Peace,” greeted motorists as they waited for the streetlight to change on 41st Avenue. Based on the response, opposition to war on Iraq is growing. The crowd was greeted by a cacophony of horns throughout the day, including an occasional truck horn, which elicited particularly loud outbursts of joy from the demonstrators.

Coordinated by the Santa Cruz Resource Center for Nonviolence, organizers for the demonstration requested that the crowd act based the principles of non-violent direct action Specifically, the crowd was asked to be respectful to all people, including the police, and that there be no property damage. Although the rally had no permit, the police remained as non-violent as the demonstrators, and there were no arrests.

Activists did blockade the doors shortly after 1 p.m., but the action was largely a symbolic stand against offices that were closed and dark. But if the Capitola Police thought that shutting down the recruitment offices for the day was going to stop active resistance to war, they will be in for a big surprise tomorrow.

“We’ve been so successful, we will be here tomorrow…. and the next day, and the next day,” said Sharon Delgado. “We plan to be here the next three days to perform civil disobedience.”

As war looms ever closer on the horizon, the decision to stand up for conscience seems to be looming in the minds of a wide variety of citizens. While today’s action included some long-time activists who have been arrested many times, others were stepping into the fray for the first time. One woman blocking a doorway who had never before been arrested said, “I can’t speak because I can only cry.”

People wishing to support or join in the blocking of the recruitment center should gather at 41st Ave and Claires St. at noon, with civil disobedience planned for 1 p.m. Current plans are for direct action to occur on Thursday, Friday, and Monday, however people can get updates on upcoming civil disobedience in Santa Cruz at the Resource Center for Nonviolence website, www.rcnv.org

In the event that the United States initiates an invasion of Iraq, a vigil is planned for 5 p.m. that day at the Clock Tower in downtown Santa Cruz. Then, on the first full business day after bombing, organizers are planning to again descend on the military recruitment center in Capitola for non-violent civil disobedience.
 
 


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