By Doug Porter
There are protests aplenty in San Diego this week. Yesterday City College students walked out in solidarity with those who see recent events in Ferguson as part of a larger problem of injustice. They also acknowledged the international outcry over the 43 missing Mexican students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
Today protesters will come together in 43 cities (including San Marcos) across the United States in a display of solidarity to demand that the government uphold its own human rights laws by stopping funding for the Mérida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico.
And tomorrow fast food workers and their allies in San Diego and 150 other cities will be making a statement about inherent unfairness of a business strategy needing government programs to keep wages low and profits high.
We’ll look at all three of these protests today.
Walkout at San Diego City College
At 1:01 on Tuesday (the exact time that Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson) several hundred students walked out of classes at San Diego City College.
The local Fox news affiliate made sure we knew that “Unlike some of the Ferguson protests, the students peacefully protested.” More than 260 demonstrations have occurred since Nov. 24 in at least 44 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, according to the Ferguson National Response Network. Protests had also been scheduled in Canada, Japan, the U.K. and Norway. Only a very few have included acts that could be portrayed by the media as “violence.”
Here’s bit more of the Fox5 coverage:
The group organized the gathering on social media with the message #HandsUpWalkOut.
“We started screaming, ‘hands up, walk out,’” said student Luis Lopez. “Not only for Ferguson but for the 43 students missing in Mexico. I’m a minority in this country. When it happens to a brother on the other side of the country, it happens to us here.”
At exactly 1:01 p.m. students from across campus met in the quad area of building AH.
“We’re fighting for justice and transparency,” said student Bianca Elisa Arellano. “I think there needs to be systemic change and it needs to be from the people.”
Several students broke out in a “die-in” demonstration in remembrance of Michael Brown and the many who have died during unjust circumstances, they said.
Here’s a snip from the KPBS coverage:
A coalition of student organizations Tuesday joined the national chorus of demonstrators chanting “Black Lives Matter” in the wake of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. But the group expanded its message to include the campus’s many Latino and indigenous Mexican students.
“Minorities struggling with the social and political system that we have,” said Luis Lopez, who is indigenous Mixtec and came to San Diego in 2005 from southwest Mexico.
“It’s something that has been happening with our black brothers and sisters here in the U.S., and it’s something that has been happening in Mexico with our indigenous communities.”
Lopez painted his cheek with the number 43 to represent the group of students that went missing in September in central Mexico. The missing students have become a flash point for protesters of government corruption there.
And here’s a snippet of video taken at City College lifted from Facebook:
#USTired2 Protests in 43+ Cities
For many weeks now there have been protests in Mexico, triggered by the kidnapping and (apparent) execution of 43 college students by a drug gang at the behest of local government officials. Now the protesters are following the money…
…to the United States. A campaign called #USTired2 is coordinating protests in at least 43 American cities – one for each missing Mexican student. Its stated goal is to get U.S. to stop funding the Mexican government and military.
From OC Weekly:
“Our government is the primary political patron of the rogue and universally repudiated administration of Enrique Peña Nieto,” says San Francisco-based #USTired2 lead organizer Roberto Lovato. The hashtag takes its cue from Mexicans turning their Attorney General’s infamous “Ya me cansé” (“I’m tired of this”) comments regarding press questions about the Ayotzinapa disappearances into a rallying call.
Started by President George W. Bush, Plan Mexico got underway with congressional funding in 2008. Since then, the Mexican government has received $2.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to beef up its security forces to combat drug trafficking. President Barack Obama requested $115 million more in his effort to continue the partnership indefinitely. Critics argue its effects are nothing short of disastrous.
“Plan Mexico has resulted in more than 100,000 people murdered in widespread violence,” Lovato argues. “There’s a link between the increased arming of the Mexican government and the increase in murders in Mexico. There are more than 25,000 people disappeared.”
From Al Jazeera:
Confessions from dozens of police officers and drug gang members arrested after the disappearance have suggested that a corrupt local mayor and his wife in Iguala, Guerrero, ordered the crackdown on the students. Local police then handed over the students to a local gang, ordering their executions, it is alleged.
On Wednesday, #USTired2 activists will host a series of vigils and conferences in solidarity with the Ayotzinapa students. Hundreds of U.S. protestors already marched in New York City last month, from the Mexican consulate in midtown Manhattan to the United Nations headquarters.
U.S. activists say aid to Mexico’s security forces is illegal under U.S. law. Human rights provisions under the “Leahy Law” male it illegal for the State Department or Department of Defense to provide military assistance to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights,” the group said in a press release.
Locally, activists have organized a protest rally at Connors Park (360 W San Marcos Blvd) in San Marcos from 6 to 8pm.
From their Facebook page:
Join us in sending two powerful messages to Mexico: To the people of Mexico, you are not alone. To the Mexican government, the world is watching you.
Fast Food Workers Strike in San Diego Dec 4th
I wrote a much longer column about these protests on Monday. Here’s the information about what will be happening in San Diego:
- At 6am fast food workers and supporters will demonstrate at the McDonald’s store located at 5322 El Cajon Blvd.
- At 10:30am there will be a “Rally For Wages That Lift Our Families,” meeting in front of NBC Building 225 Broadway (at 3rd).
- At 11am rally participants will lead a “Fight for $15 March & Action,” with a march route including four highly symbolic stops with short walks in between. (Maybe they can commandeer a santa to deliver coal and sticks to Jerry Sanders and his cronies at the Chamber of Commerce along the way)
These events are being organized by Raise Up San Diego.
The People’s History
I have long thought one of the important roles for the San Diego Free Press is documenting social unrest. I like how historian Howard Zinn approached the story of the United States through the prism of social unrest driving change in society.
When other media report on protests they generally lack context (“no violence”).
Protesters are portrayed as outliers, demonstrations are often stand-alone events. The fact is it takes real guts to go public and walk a picket line. The fact that protest happens so often on so many issues just isn’t relevant to reporters dependent on the good graces of officialdom for information. And the fact that protests often point to larger issues without simple solutions means they can’t be explained in a sound bite.
History is happening all around us. We just need to look beyond the latest escapades of the Kardashians.
On This Day: 1948 – The “Pumpkin Papers” came to public light. The House Un-American Activities Committee announced that former Communist spy Whittaker Chambers had produced microfilm of secret documents hidden inside a pumpkin on his Maryland farm. 1984 – At least four thousand people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record. It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues. 1999 – The World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded a four-day meeting in Seattle, WA, without setting an agenda for a new round of trade talks. The meeting was met with fierce protests by various groups.
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