March for Our Lives

I was 13 years old in 1968 when the East LA School Blowouts happened (which the current HBO movie, "Walk Out" is based on). Several thousand students, teachers, parents, and supporters stepped out of their schools, confronting police, a confused media, and general indifference (I heard from one young person that she never heard about the "Blowouts" until the HBO film first aired on March 17, although she grew up in LA).

I also walked out of my middle school in 1968, although it was only a handful of us. It became my first political act that would soon become a lifetime of political acts.

Then starting last Friday, thousands of students walked out of LA-area schools (and around the country--I heard from one student activist in Phoenix) against the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill that passed the House of Representatives in December, and is presently being debated in the Senate. From 500,000 to two million people demonstrated in downtown LA on Saturday--the largest demonstration in the city's history. More demonstrations on Sunday, including one in honor of Cesar Chavez, led to some 40,000 students walking out of schools throughout Southern California on Monday--but also thousands more in the Bay Area and schools from the Midwest to North Carolina.

That morning I almost drove into a couple of hundred students from Sylmar High School as they walked down Hubbard Blvd to San Fernando Road in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. I stopped, honked, and placed my fist in the air. Truckers and others did the same. The students were noisy, but peaceful, displaying a massive Mexican flag (US flags were also quite evident in most of these demonstrations). Later my wife Trini and I caught up with them further along their walk.

By Tuesday, school officials were "locking down" schools (students who come in, won't be allowed to leave until the end of the day). It's no coincidence schools in urban core communities were using prison terms to describe their tactics. For many students, schools are a prison. One adminstrator said the students needed to return to school for their "education." Yet, I see some fantastic education going on in the civil demonstrations and actions the students were taking.

Today, as in 1968, I support these marches. We have seen so many bold infractions and felonies against our future with war (defended by lies), corruption (not just the most recent with Abramoff and DeLay, but the billions stolen by Enron, World Com, Halliburton, and others, all friends of the present White House administration), and civil liberties (Patriot Acts, wiretappings, and torture in US-controlled prisons around the world).

People have to stand up. They must also strategize, think of the next step, reshape the vision, reinvigorate more people, and truly bring about real change.

We need it. The world needs it. In my life--slightly more than 50 years--I've seen the detrimental affects of capitalism, its wars, its divisions, its tactics, and the dense indifferences that result from this.

I'm honored to know our youth, and many of the veteran warriors from the 1960s through the 1980s, are coming together and demanding an end to the direction and motion of this country. Everything the Republicans (and their lame cronies in the Democrats) do now only gets worse for us and worse for them. They don't know how to do anything else.

We can show them there are other ideas. Other ways to go. Where peace, cooperation, community, incorporation, and true security really comes from. At crucial times in history, it's been shown that the people know better than their "leaders."

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