Justice Coalition Clashes With Military Recruiters

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Members from the Justice Coalition, the Association of Latin American Students (A.L.A.S.), as well as other students who are against the war in Iraq and the Bush administration, clashed with military recruiters when they held anti-war protests on campus Sept. 27.

The protesters in Plaza Vaquero held up signs with anti-war sentiments and even set up a coffin draped with the American flag. Atop the coffin was a Bush mask.

The Justice Coalition, which raises awareness about U.S. foreign policy and other pressing social issues, and A.L.A.S., a cultural club that promotes friendship among students and help students get through the college experience, got things heated when they began to dispute with military recruiters who were on campus trying to recruit students.

Jo Takarabe, a nursing major, who has been a member of the Justice Coalition since 2003, said the confrontation between the protestors and the military recruiters was non-violent and that the protestors were just trying to make a statement. “One reason why we confronted the recruiters was because they target minority and working class students,” said Takarabe. “We want to create a cultural resistance for the students and say it’s not okay for them (military recruiters) to target students that might be vulnerable.”

Staff Sgt. Alex Garcia, a U.S. Army Recruiter, who has served the military for 11 years, felt the protestors inappropriately targeted them.

“I don’t Bush, I represent the army,” said Garcia, who spent a year in Iraq during the beginning of the war in 2003.
Garcia, who sees himself as a positive role model for students, felt that quarreling with the protestors would have not solved anything. “I don’t have much reaction to them, I’m just proud to serve America,” Garcia said.

The protest on campus was just one of the many rallies that have been held nation and worldwide to protest the U.S.-led war in Iraq, in which over 1,900 U.S. troops have been killed and about $204 billion has been spent to finance the war since it started in March 2003.

Yesenia Sanchez, a member of A.L.A.S., called the war in Iraq a waste of time and money. “We are here to try to stop the war in Iraq,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez also believed that military recruiters only recruit students to go to war. Garcia disagrees: “We don’t just recruit students and throw them on the front line. We have many educational programs and traiing to help students out, not just forfighting.”
Protestors also hope to open up the eyes and minds of students who might not be too informed or involved in what is going on in the world. “The campus tends to be apolitical so we want to make people think about what’s going on locally and internationally especially since what happened in New Orleans,” said Takarabe, who is referring to hurricane Katrina, in which nearly 1,000 people died after the hurricane struck the gulf coast.

President Bush took full responsibility for failures in dealing with the hurricane, after questions were raised about the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

The Justice Coalition and A.L.A.S. will continue their protests and take a different “tactical charge” Takarabe said, from week to week, until they have their voices heard and get their message across.