Youth in Action



Ask most people what rock music means and you could expect to hear such answers as “sex,” “drugs,” big hair,” “loud guitars,” “a driving rhythm,” etc. Furthest from his/her mind is the idea of rock n’ roll as a political tool. However, many attempts have been made to silence politically charged songs and the genre’s outspoken artists.

For example, in 1970 Ohio’s governor, James Rhodes, attempted to ban from the air Neil Young’s popular song about the Kent State University shootings, “Ohio,” fearing that it would incite more campus violence.

More recently, in 1999, police around the country called for the cancellation of a benefit concert in New Jersey for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, featuring the political rock group, Rage Against the Machine, and rap artists, The Beastie Boys.

The plight of Mumia Abu Jamal was the main inspiration for a Lake Superior YSA-sponsored benefit rock show, “Jams 4 Justice,” held at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., in December of 2000. Almost 200 young people attended to help raise money for Mumia’s defense fund.

The event again proved that rock, techno, and hip-hop were effective platforms to convey political and social ideas concerning capitalism and its attendant problems of racism, sexism, xenophobia, police brutality, poverty, police brutality, the prison system, and the death penalty.

The show was so successful that Lake Superior YSA decided to do it again by sponsoring the second “Jams 4 Justice” at Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. This year’s event helped raise money once again for Mumia’s defense fund and also for the 3.5 million Afghan refugees displaced by the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The bands included, from Wisconsin, The Knifing Assessment, Antithesis, The Smerves, Big Zero, and Mozzletoff Cocktail. An all-women power punk trio, The Keepaways, from Duluth, represented Minnesota.

With its often raw edge, each performance energized the crowd of more than 70. Nor was there a lack of political energy, and throughout the evening bands often paused to speak out against war and the death penalty.

Between sets, YSAers took to the stage to speak on those subjects, pointing out that they are linked because both target the poor and oppressed.

YSAer Rob Welsh gave a rousing speech about the so-called “War on Terrorism” and addressed U.S. aided Israeli repression of the Palestinians. He called for solidarizing with the Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination and then led the crowd in a chant, “No Land, No Justice. No Justice, No Peace!”

Big Zero rapped up the show with an extended punk rock rendition of Ben E. King and the Drifter’s “Stand By Me,” during which the crowd joined in the drummer’s chant, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal!”

A thanks is extended to all the bands and sound crew for providing the music. Thanks to the band members and YSAers that gave inspiring talks. And a special thanks to YSAer Jeb Ebben for helping to organize the show.



UC Berkeley protesters win victory


In a major victory for the movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the movement to defend free speech, criminal charges against 79 participants in an April 9 protest in Berkeley, Calif., against Israel’s war against the Palestine people were dropped.

On June 7, prosecutors, under pressure from the movement to defend the wrongly accused protesters, agreed to drop charges against all defendants. Each one of the protesters will receive “factual findings of innocence,” according to the legal team of National Lawyers Guild lawyers defending them.

The April 9 action was part of a series of events at UC Berkeley organized by the new national organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP has been calling for universities, including UC Berkeley, to divest from their endowment companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, among others who supply weapons and equipment used to enforce Israel,s brutal occupation of Palestinian land.

The April 9 demonstration included a peaceful sit-in at Wheeler Hall, where 79 protesters were charged for trespassing. Six of those were additionally cited for resisting arrest. In addition, SJP was suspended as a student organization, and 41 UC Berkley students were slapped with student conduct charges.

The attack on the protesters by the university and the police set off a free speech defense campaign that demanded all charges be dropped and SJP be allowed to function as an official organization. Berkley SJP continued to table and pass out flyers in defiance of the university’s repressive attack on their political rights.

The Free Speech campaign was supported by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-SF), the National Lawyer’s Guild, and SJP chapters across the country. Eventually, the university reestablished SJP’s organizational rights.

While SJP won its right to operate on campus, and the criminal charges were dropped, the student conduct charges against the 41 UC Berkley students remain. Youth for Socialist Action calls on all people concerned with defending free speech to demand that the university’s charges against these protesters be dropped immediately.

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