Category Archives: free speech

Solidarity Needed: US anti-war student suspended in attack on activism

By Angie Jobe Cuba (Foster Student Action) & Ramy Khalil (Youth Against War & Racism)

Overturn antiwar student’s unfair suspension!
Hold the Tukwila School Board accountable!
Keep the teachers hired next semester and next year!

Last Friday, December 7th one of the students at Foster High School in Tukwila, WA involved in Foster Student Action was given a 9 DAY suspension supposedly for “having an Ipod out in class.” However, the real reason she was suspended was because she and other Foster Student Action activists dared to collect petition signatures at lunch period the day before requesting that teachers who allowed the November 16th antiwar student walkout to happen get to keep their jobs.

Who ever heard of someone being suspended for 9 days for having an Ipod out in class? None of the consequences listed in the Foster Student Handbook for having electronics out in class even mentions suspension – only confiscation of the device (see here). And this is the first time this student Bailey Davidson has ever been punished for having electronics at school. So school administrators have blatantly violated their own school rules here.

Many students were using Ipods and cell phone text messaging in the class at the same time as Bailey because the class had a substitute teacher with no lesson plan and students were told simply to do their homework, but many had finished their homework. Yet none of the other students got in trouble. Only this student activist was singled out.

Not only does Vice Principal Wright’s 9-day suspension keep Bailey out of Foster until winter break, but school administrators are also trying to drive her out of the school altogether. They claim that, since she moved residences, she now lives “outside the school district.” However, she recently moved closer to school, not farther from school. She now walks only one mile to school every day. How could this be “outside the school district”? There are around 150 other students who live outside the school district, so why is the administration singling out this one student?

Seventy-one percent of Foster High School students are low-income and qualify for the free and reduced-cost lunch program, and it is a racially diverse school. Thirty percent speak English as a second language. Military recruiters target these students because they are ethnic minorities or come from working-class families with fewer college and career opportunities. Administrators have gotten used to bossing these students and teachers around, but this is the first time these working-class students and teachers have started to speak out against the war’s effects on their communities.

If the administrators get away with this abuse of power, there is nothing to stop them from targeting other students and teachers. This is not just an attack on one student or some teachers, but all of students and all workers — and our Constitutional right to petition local government officials.

Bailey has done better educationally and socially at Foster than at any other school, and she really wants to stay at Foster because Mr. Rogers and a few teachers here have really helped her focus on her studies.

The followinga re teh demands of the campaign:

1. Overturn Bailey’s suspension, and let her stay at Foster!

2. Keep the teachers who allowed or supported students in the walkout hired – not only next semester but also next year!

3. Drop the investigations against teachers now!

4. Remove military recruiters from our school or at least allow us to set up a literature table next to them when they are present!


And please forward this appeal widely!

Please send emails to Tukwila School Board members – (replace ‘[at]’ with @ – this is to prevent spamming). A model protest email can be found below:

Please CC copies to:

Interim Superintendent, Ethelda Burke:

Foster High School Principal, George Ilgenfritz:

And tukwila.teachers.solidarity[at] so we can count how many protest emails have been sent in.

Thanks for your support,
Angie Jobe Cuba, Foster Student Action, Foster High School
Ramy Khalil, Youth Against War and Racism

Model E-mail of protest

Dear Tukwila School Administrator,

I am writing to demand that the Tukwila School District support the initiative and moral fortitude of students who took a stand against the effects of the Iraq war on their communities. The student march and rally on November 16th were student-generated and entirely peaceful.

With a “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the natural right to protest.

With a bloody and illegal war, where the soldiers that are killed and maimed are disproportionately minorities and victims of the “poverty draft,” students and teachers of Tukwila have the natural right to protest.

With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: “Money for Schools — Not For War!”

With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can’t cut off funding to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their future being bombed away.

These teachers only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives of their students.

On the Tukwila School District’s website, the Interim Superintendent posted the following message:

“We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy… Our schools are expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens. We believe the challenge is to transform every child – to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking person and a self-governing citizen. We are all here to work together to provide the best education for the most prized commodity of our fine city – the students of the Tukwila School District.”

Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation laws, now the school district is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being “self-governing citizens” and standing up for what is right?

You should immediately:

1.  Keep the teachers who allowed or supported the student walkout hired not only next semester but next year!

2.  Overturn Bailey Davidson’s suspension! Let her stay at Foster High School!

3.  Drop the investigations against teachers now!
4.   Remove military recruiters from Foster High School or at least allow students to set up a literature table next to them when they are present!

Please write me back saying that upon further investigation you realize that there is no need for disciplinary action against these students or teachers.


Organizational Affiliations (if any) 

News Reports & Background:

Great Free Speech Radio News report:

NYC Indymedia:

(Click where it says “video”)

NorthWest Cable News:

Seattle Times: “Protesting teacher back at Tukwila school” November 29th

Student-made Walkout Film:

Great report on antiwar student walkouts:

Articles on Youth Against War and Racism student victories against military recruiters in schools:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nov. 16th Walkout Article:

For more information go to or e-mail Foster Student Action at foster.action[at]


UCD: International solidarity wins a victory for victimised students

By Paul Murphy

The close to a hundred emails and phone calls received by the UCD authorities from around the world protesting against their attack on the right to protest has forced them to back down.

Darren Cogavin and Enda Duffy, both of whom were facing possible fines for engaging in peaceful protest against Shell and Green Party Minister, Eamon Ryan, have met with Martin Butler, the Vice President for Students.

At both meetings, he was very defensive, having been stung by the unexpected international solidarity. Apparently, he was completely shocked about getting so many emails from students and staff in UCD, activists around the country, and from people around the world. He was particularly perplexed about getting emails from Greek trade unionists and American students!

As a result, all the indications are that Darren and Enda will face no punishment. This will be finally confirmed by a letter they are due to receive this week. From Butler’s response, we are very confident that they have been forced to back down.

International solidarity has forced the college authorities to back down, and defended the right to protest on campus. A big thank you from Darren and Enda to all those who emailed and phoned in!

For background to this campaign see: UCD students victimised for protesting against Shell and government ministers

SOLIDARITY NEEDED: UCD Students victimised for protesting against Shell and government ministers


By Paul Murphy

A member of the Socialist Party, Darren Cogavin, and one other student, Enda Duffy, are due to meet the Vice President for Students at University College Dublin (UCD), Dr. Martin Butler, in the next week. They face punishment for engaging in a peaceful protest against the giant corporation Shell and the Green Party Minister for Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan.

Two protests, organised by the campaign ‘Shell to Sea’, took place on 30 October in UCD, the biggest college in Dublin. They were opposing the giveaway of over 50 billion euro worth of gas for free by the Irish government to Shell, and the building of an unsafe onshore pipeline and refinery by Shell in Rossport, Co. Mayo, on Ireland’s west coast.

The first protest was outside a Shell recruitment fair, highlighting the role of Shell in Mayo and internationally. The second took place outside a lecture theatre where Eamon Ryan was due to speak at a debate. He was confronted by about 50 chanting protestors and he turned on his heels and left.

In the aftermath, the college authorities and some right-wing students tried to paint these as ‘violent protests’, which they were not. Three students have received letters from the college authorities, claiming that the protestors harassed students, intimidated staff and put the safety of others at risk.

One of the students has already met with the authorities and been given a fine of up to 100 euro. The Socialist Party says no student should face any disciplinary action, or have to pay any fine, for engaging in a peaceful protest.

The authorities’ action is clearly an attempt to criminalise protest on campus. Recently, general activity by students in the college has been at a relatively low level, and now the authorities are now attempting to set a precedent of punishing students for protest.

The college authorities can be made to step back, through pressure in the college (the Students’ Union President has supported the students) and from outside, with a campaign of emails and phone call protests.

Please send protest emails to:

Dr. Martin Butler:
The protest emails should be also sent to

the UCD President

and cc’d to:

Phone calls will have a big impact

Please let the UCD authorities know about your protest by phoning Martin Butler on (01) 716 1280

UCD President, Hugh Brady, can be phoned on (01) 716 1618

Dublin: Attack on freedom of speech – DCC impose ban on leaflets

By Stephen Rigney

Under anti-litter legislation, Dublin City Council litter wardens have begun enforcing a ban on handing out leaflets in the city centre area.  While this ban has been pushed as a reaction to litter on the streets of Dublin, the ban is also politically motivated. 

Inability to distribute leaflets on the streets will cut across community and workers’ campaigns and smaller political parties being able to organise public events, anti-war demonstrations and to generally distribute political material.

The fact that the Council has not take any steps against the fast food companies or delicatessens, who’s packaging contributes to the majority of rubbish on our streets is further proof of the political nature of this ban.

The council has previously used anti-litter laws to cut across campaigns, as in 2003 when they introduced a ban on postering in Dublin City to prevent anti-bin charges and anti-war meetings being organised. While the ban on postering has been relaxed, it still has an effect on making it difficult for campaigns and parties, who don’t have the huge resources of the big parties for professional advertising, to organise successful public events. The leaflet ban will only further increase these difficulties.

Leafleting and postering played a crucial role in organising the 100,000 strong anti-war demonstration in February 2003 as well as the mass meetings of the anti-ban tax campaign. The council and government both fear that more demonstrations and campaigns like this are on the way, as young people and workers’ struggle against the attacks on wages and conditions of workers, cuts in healthcare and the continuing use of Shannon airport by the US military.

This undemocratic ban must be opposed by activists, workers, young workers and those involved in the socialist movement.