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Olympia SDS to hold Rally for Free Speech

Olympia SDS is still banned by the Evergreen administration! Here's how you can support Olympia SDS.
CALL OUT FOR SUPPORT OF OLYMPIA SDS AND FREE SPEECH

On Wednesday, May 21st the Olympia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society will hold a rally for free speech leading up to our last and final appeal with The Evergreen State College administration regarding our student group's suspension. The rally will start at 3pm in Red Square at Evergreen. All community members are welcome to attend this. Now is the perfect time that our comrades, allies and supporters from Olympia, Cascadia, the US of A and beyond put pressure on the Evergreen administration to reinstate SDS as a student group, with full funding, complete rights and no strings attached.

Here's who you can put pressure on. You can make the demands listed above, and feel free to add in any more information (see below) you want. Wendy Freeman will be presiding over our appeal on May 21st, but Art Costantino and Les Purce both have been putting a lot of pressure on SDS.

Wendy Freeman
Director of the Career Development Center
360.867.6187
 freemanw@evergreen.edu

Art Costantino
Vice President of Student Affairs
360.867.6296
 costanta@evergreen.edu

Les Purce
President
360.867.6100
 purcel@evergreen.edu

WHAT HAPPENED TO SDS?

Olympia Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was suspended by The Evergreen State College administration as a student group. We can no longer access our budget, have meetings, book events, or do many other functions that regular student groups do. SDS was originally suspended from until January 1, 2009 and will then face probation until March 13, 2009. After an appeal was held, our suspension was shortened and our probation will go until January 1, 2009.

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

Olympia SDS planned a series of events for Friday March 7th. The first event was a panel discussion on the San Francisco 8 to discuss issues of torture, police and government repression, COINTELPRO, the Black Panther Party and political prisoners. The second event was a folk show with musical artists David Rovics, Danny Kelly and Mark Eckert to raise awareness about anti-war activist Carlos Arredondo whose twenty-year-old son Marine Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo was killed in Iraq.

Just two days before the events were to take place, the administration decided to cancel both events, using the "moratorium on concerts" to cancel both the folk show and the panel discussion.

The so-called "moratorium on concerts" was created by the administration following a Valentine's Day dead prez show on campus that led to an uprising of concert goers after a black man named Kaylen Williams was arrested by a white cop. Concert goers peacefully demanded he be let go. He eventually was, but police from several other local agencies came in and, without any warning, started clubbing and pepper-spraying people. Countless people were injured and one member of SDS was hospitalized that night for internal bleeding. The crowd responded to the violence and racism of the police by throwing bottles, rocks, garbage and other objects. The cops retreated, leaving a cruiser behind which was then flipped and some of its contents taken. Nine people have been charged with various felonies and misdemeanors since the uprising, and the administration and police continue to hunt the student population for more "rioters". Art Costantino has gone so far as to encourage the police to investigate the Hip Hop Congress, SDS and prominent port protesters in their hunt and students' records have been given to the sheriffs.

When word went out that the SDS events would be canceled, members of SDS consulted with the musicians, panelists, and community members who helped organize the event and decided to go through with it on the two conditions that there would be no further advertising for the event and that in case police came to the event to shut it down, that SDSers would deescalate the situation. In addition, members of SDS and many other students not in the group approached administrators Phyllis Lane, Art Costantino and Les Purce to try and go through with these events. But all three administrators did not listen.

Because SDS went through with these two events (which are protected by the First Amendment and free speech rights), the administration decided to suspend SDS's group status. We in SDS also believe this suspension came about for our group's official condemnation of the racist, violent police. SDS has also worked in various ways to support those who have been used as scapegoats by the administration following the uprising.

WHAT IS OLYMPIA SDS, ANYWAY?

Some people may be unsure about Olympia SDS and what it is exactly. The mission statement of the group states that Olympia SDS is a non-hierarchical radical anti-authoritarian student organization dedicated to promoting radical political and social change through action/praxis rather than rhetoric in a movement working to build an educated world that is democratic and free of all forms of exploitation and oppression.

Olympia SDS formed in May 2006 and has been organizing around issues of campus democratization, poverty and homelessness, the prison industrial complex, political prisoners, the war and occupation of Iraq, port militarization resistance efforts, labor struggles, immigration and many other issues. Some of its most recent projects have been centered on creating a Free Student Union, establishing a free health clinic, supporting the San Francisco 8 and working to make Olympia a Sanctuary City for undocumented workers and GI war resisters. Olympia SDS is part of a network of over 250 SDS chapters with 1,000s of members. SDS takes its name from the 1960s-70s SDS which was rooted in ideas of participatory democracy, student syndicalism (unionism) and was active in the civil rights and anti-war movements at that time.

If you have any questions, feel free to email  olympiasds@riseup.net. Also, if you would like to make donations for the legal defense of Kaylen Williams and/or others who were arrested following the uprising, email us as well.

This message was not written by Olympia SDS as a group, but by one SDSer.