Arguing that military recruiters are unfairly targeting minorities at high school campuses, a Los Angeles-based coalition of antiwar activists announced a national campaign Monday to fight recruitment in schools.
The advocates plan to educate students and their parents “to keep our children from being cannon fodder,” Rosalio Munoz, coordinator for Latinos for Peace, said during a news conference in East Los Angeles.
“The peace movement is alive and well in the Latino community,” Munoz said.
The groups made the announcement at Salazar Park on the 35th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, a protest against the disproportionate number of Latinos being killed in the Vietnam War.
The 20,000-member march ended in a riot and the deaths of three people, including Los Angeles Times columnist and KMEX-TV Channel 34 news director Ruben Salazar.
The activists said Monday that too many Latino youths have died in the war in Iraq.
In an effort to prevent more deaths, they want schools to limit the presence of recruiters on campus and to do a better job of informing students about how to keep the military from obtaining their personal information.
Under the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act, recruiters can obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of high school juniors and seniors unless parents or students sign a form opting out.
During Monday’s news conference, Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools organizer Arlene Inouye said she plans to begin an “Operation Opt Out” campaign to urge students to sign the forms.
Volunteers will go to 30 schools as well as school board meetings to raise awareness of the issue.
The coalition will also discourage students from taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, a military recruitment tool.
“It is unconscionable that this is going on -- the targeting of the working poor in our community,” Inouye said.
“Our students are getting shammed into the military,” Inouye said.