San Diego area activists have been busy this fall encouraging
high school students to think about the government's proposed
war against Iraq and providing them with information not available
to them via the corporate media. This action grew out of the San
Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice in coordination with San
Diegans to Stop the Violence Against Iraq, using COMD's leafleting
experience as a model. Activists wanted to focus on providing
high school students information to balance the barrage of militarism
they receive from TV, radio, video games, movies, and the military
in their schools. As has been reported previously in Draft
NOtices, the Pentagon has been focusing on high school and
even middle and elementary school children with increasing intensity
in order to indoctrinate them before they become voting citizens.
On September 18, and again on October 23, teams of people handed
one-page leaflets to students outside their high schools as they
arrived for their first class of the day. The first time, 45 volunteers
leafleted seven area schools and distributed about 3,350 leaflets.
On the second date, 42 volunteers handed out 4,000 leaflets at
eight schools. About a third of the leafleters were students,
some of whom were able to give out fliers on school property while
other volunteers stayed on the sidewalk, enabling the teams to
get the fliers into the hands of more students overall. At the
second event, leafleters also handed out lollipops with a label
on the wrapper saying, "Don't be a sucker. No war on Iraq."
The first version of the flier asked, "Why War? Why Iraq?"
and provided information about the issues involved and Web site
links for more information. The second version was clearly anti-war
and included specific information about the illegitimacy of the
government's actions. COMD's high school students' rights brochure
(which can be downloaded from http://www.comdsd.org/youth.htm)
was also available for young people who were interested in more
information about getting involved. COMD's Web site was included
on both fliers and experienced a 50% increase in visits in the
days immediately after the first leafleting.
Training was available for volunteers preceding each leafleting
date. Experienced activists from COMD provided information about
legal rights, safety procedures, appropriate behavior, and effective
ways of educating students and school officials about the war.
A Web site for volunteers was set up at
http://www.anti-sheep.com/iraq, where a copy of the latest
high school leaflet can be obtained.
In most cases, volunteers ran out of fliers before all the students
had arrived at school. There were no major incidents with either
police or school officials. Reports from volunteers included:
At Crawford HS, which has a large Muslim student population,
there was a lot of positive feedback about the leafleters.
A Point Loma HS student said that the leaflets gave the social
studies teachers something good to talk about for a change.
At Lincoln HS, students asked leafleters for additional fliers
at the request of their teacher, and staff whom volunteers spoke
to were supportive.
Students at San Dieguito Academy HS had prior approval from
the principal to leaflet inside as people got off the buses. A
substitute teacher told the leafleters she was glad to see them
and that she would put fliers in the teachers' mailboxes at La
Costa Canyon HS. At least two students at this school plan to
make their own leaflets and continue the work.
At some schools, parents who were dropping their children off
asked for fliers.
At Vista HS, two school officials stood near the leafleters
with trash cans in order to limit littering; unfortunately, this
effectively encouraged some students not to read the fliers.
At Madison HS, a student leafleter took literature in for friends
in JROTC. Some hostile students made racial slurs and suggested
using violence against people of Middle Eastern descent.
At Sweetwater HS, all but one of the uniformed JROTC students
In general, the response by both volunteers and students has
been positive, and more events are planned for the future.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org)