Marchers in Boston Blast 'Poverty Draft'

Unnamed photo
Evan H. Jacobs

Tom Arabia of Northeastern University protests the war in Iraq in Boston on the day that the Supreme Court heard arugments in the Solomon Amendment case.

Protesters chanting “Killing Iraqis is no career, recruiters aren’t welcome here!” marched in a circle outside the Armed Forces Career Center in downtown Boston yesterday afternoon, in a demonstration timed to coincide with the first day of Supreme Court hearings on the Solomon Amendment.

At one point nearly 60 demonstrators, including a group of high school students from Wellesley, Mass. and members of the “Raging Grannies” organization, joined in shouting anti-recruitment and anti-war slogans.

The Solomon Amendment is a Congressional statute that allows the Pentagon to withhold federal funds from any school that limits military recruitment on its campus.

The Solomon Amendment “is a way to bribe schools into militarization...it’s totally unconstitutional, especially considering that the military is explicitly homophobic,” said Tom D. Arabia, one of the organizers of the event, who is affiliated with Northeastern University Campus Against War and Racism.

Although some of the protesters specifically criticized the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on homosexuality—an important aspect of the legal argument against the Solomon Amendment—most focused on a broader frustration with the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq.

“I’m here to oppose the U.S. war in Iraq and the recruiting of young people to be sent there to kill and die,” said Matt Osborn, who is affiliated with the Boston Direct Action Project.

The protesters’ slogans reflected this wider focus.

Along with “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, U.S. military go away!” they chanted “No blood for oil! Troops out now!” and demanded “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.”

Several of the protesters criticized what Cambridge resident Eli Beckerman called the military’s “poverty draft.”

“Usually military recruiters target poor towns and citizens,” said Erica Kujawski, a high school student from Wellesley, Mass., referring to the military’s practice of attracting students by promising to pay for their educations.

Boston City Councillor at Large Felix D. Arroyo joined the marchers for a few minutes. As well as criticizing the war in Iraq, he emphasized the importance of activism.

“I think what is happening today should happen more often,” Arroyo said.