The Antiwar Student Movement: The Implications of the J20 Walkout

-by Richard Moreno, Global Resistance Network

The January 20th walkouts were a milestone in the student-youth movement. It was a veritable step in the reconsolidation of the genuine and vivacious antiwar-campus struggle that was set into motion on March 5, 2002.

High school and college students walked out from around the globe. Indeed, as of this writing, news of walkouts from San Francisco to Seattle to Germany to Canada is over-filling the author's email box.

Here are just a few examples of some student actions.

At Seattle Central Community College, an estimated 500 students managed to kick military recruiters off their campus during their walkout, and then the students met up with 500 other students from the University of Washington (KoinNews6). In Chicago, several hundred Evanston Township High School students walked out of classes despite threats from the administration, which charged them with absences (Chicago Tribune). At Mt. San Antonio College in the Los Angeles area, students who walked out staged a mock trial of George W. Bush (SGV Tribune). In Colorado, one Boulder High School student, inspired by the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, led a walkout alongside of his English teacher (Colorado Daily).

What started as an idea from a middle-class centred junior college quickly grew to a global manifestation. It was a collaboration amongst many on the Left, from websites such as Black Thursday and Znet (which published the author's call for a student strike) to various organizations, e.g., Not In Our Name, Food Not Bombs, Axis of Justice and others (--there was even a link on Michael Moore's website named "J20 Student Walkout" calling for massive walkouts, independent of our original call).

To be sure, the walkouts for the most part tended to have a spontaneous character to them, as news from different localities have shown.

It is also important to note that many of the campuses that called for walkouts in March 2002, before the initial invasion of Iraq (number II), virtually had no presence this time around. That is to say, although the casualty rate amongst Iraqis and U.S. troops continues to grow, much of the organized resistance has not grown alongside of it.

In a recent interview, Campus Antiwar Network representatives for their part spoke about the post-invasion confusion and electoral diversion as being factors in the recent lull of their work (Left Hook).

Nevertheless, inroads have been made in other localities. For example, the Los Angeles area walkouts were combined with the protest initiated by A.N.S.W.E.R., which grew a crowd of some ten thousand people on January 20th. There were also huge marches and protests in Washington, Italy, Peru, Belgium, and Guatemala, just to name a few.

In synthesis, this demonstrates the necessity for individuals and organizations to continue to connect, or refine the bridges that exist, in order to combat the vociferous psychological-social warfare campaign being waged by the consolidated corporate media, e.g., FOX, which has managed (if only temporarily) to create a deleterious effect within the antiwar movement.

In this context, the January 20th student walkouts must be seen as a groundbreaking path toward a coherent and militant antiwar movement amongst a new generation. The January 20th walkout is a new chapter being written by our generation in this epic struggle against war and empire.

Onward to March 19 now!

Richard Moreno is a student and activist at Mt. San Antonio College. He is also a co-founder of Global Resistance Network . He can be reached at
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