Saint Mary's Peacemakers club travels to Washington D.C.
By SARAH RYKOWSKI
Saint Mary's News Editor
Members of the Peacemakers club at Saint Mary's attended the controversial protest of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
"Sunday we drove down to D.C. and went to the legal rally," said Maureen Capillo, president of the club. "We listened to speakers and marched around D.C. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m."
As far as the arrests and police crackdown, Capillo said that the group of five from Saint Mary's avoided the area that was raided — the convergence site, called the Mobilization for Global Justice.
"We had a nonviolence trainer that calmed us down," Capillo said. "We heard rumors about the direct action areas, but we did not want to get arrested."
Capillo and her group, consisting of Saint Mary's senior Rocio Rodriguez, junior Jami Newcomb, sophomore Brooke Warner, Leslie Danger and Mario Guzman, a junior at Purdue and Rodriguez's boyfriend, also attended the event with the group from Saint Mary's.
According to Capillo, 30,000 to 40,000 people attended the nonviolent rally, which was staged between the Washington Monument and the White House.
"There were college students from all over the world," Capillo said.
Newcomb, who is active in the Feminist Collective, attended the rally but had not been active in the Peacemakers organization until she attended the conference.
"This was a definite turning point in the Peacemakers organization," Newcomb said. "This has definitely given me a flavor for activism. It was empowering to see all those students."
Newcomb cited the conference that the Peacemakers attended before traveling to the protest as a factor in their preparedness for the event. The conference, titled "The Fightback: Students, Labor, and the Struggle Against the Corporate Agenda," was given at the University of Delaware-Newark, and sponsored by the Young Democratic Socialists for the weekend of April 14.
"We had to go to the conference to get to D.C.," Newcomb said.
The conference discussed sweatshops, the School of the Americas and environmental issues, among other topics. Once at the protest in Washington, the atmosphere was carnival-like, with people everywhere, Newcomb said.
"There were 60,000 people there," she said. "The entire goal was to keep the air as peaceful as possible. You know, civil disobedience, not direct action. People were dressed up — it wasn't as tense and stressful as it was in the direct action areas. There were a couple thousand anarchists there and none of them got violent." Newcomb said.
The members of Peacemakers intend to share the knowledge that they have gleaned from last weekend's events to the entire student body.
"People have a lot of interest in the events surrounding the protests," Newcomb said. "It just starts up this wonderful dialogue. It is amazing how many people agree that there needs to be a change. "
Capillo agreed with Newcomb.
"This was the major trip for the semester," Capillo said. "Just experiencing the rally and how huge the problems with the structures are [was informative.]
[The students] hadn't realized how it was all connected."
Capillo will be stepping down as the leader of the Peacemakers next year, but she is confident that the conference inspired its members.
Peacemakers plans to hold a session between Easter vacation and final exam week to share more information with the student body about the club's purpose as a part of Saint Mary's student life.
"I've asked Maureen to keep me on the list," Rodriguez said. " I want to participate as much as I can as an alumna."
The group also plans to remain active in the campaign against the IMF and World Bank, and in other issues.
"The protest was a success," Newcomb said. "Definitely we'll do it again."
All News Stories for Wednesday, April 19, 2000