Thursday, March 20, 2003

This One Moved Me to Tears 

From the UK's The Guardian Unlimited:

"Fighting for peace

Schoolchildren in countrywide protests

John Vidal
Thursday March 20, 2003
The Guardian

Up to 8,000 schoolchildren walked out of classes yesterday to stage sit-ins and anti-war demonstrations, in what are thought to have been the first national political protests by pupils since the 1970s.
There was chaos in Birmingham as more than 4,000 children, including Jacob Hunt, 14, son of Lord Hunt, who resigned as a health minister this week, defied their schools and met in the city's Victoria Square. Unprepared police tried to stop them occupying the city council offices.

In Liverpool, 800 pupils, some in school uniform, joined other anti-war protests and closed Birkenhead tunnel and several motorway junctions. In Manchester, up to 2,000 schoolchildren and university students blocked traffic and staged a protest outside the BBC offices.

Similar demonstrations and sit-ins, mostly organised by text messages, were held in other cities and in schools around Britain.

In Edinburgh, hundreds of pupils from Broughton high, James Gillespie's and Drummond high staged a "die-in" which stopped traffic on Princes Street for nearly an hour.

In Exeter, pupils occupied the constituency office of the local MP, Ben Bradshaw, demanding - and getting - a meeting.

In London, more than 1,000 pupils, mainly girls, from at least 20 schools joined university students for a protest in Parliament Square. "This is about priorities," said one pupil from Pimlico school. "This is more important than the science and English lessons I was going to have."

"School has always told us to have our own opinions and think about the things that affect us," said Zoe Bauillie, a sixth former at George Abbot school in Guildford. "We've done that and this seems the best action we can take."

"We are here for the children of Iraq," said Ella, a sixth former at Pimlico school. "We would not want to be in their situation."

Many children said schools had tried to stop them going on the protests by locking the gates. Pupils from one school in south London said they had to break out; others said they were warned at assembly not to go on any demonstrations."