Veterans for Peace distribute counter-recruitment literature at St Pete High School

02/08/06

Today at Lakewood High School in St Pete… Veterans for Peace and others tried to distribute information on alternatives to military service, but were turned away by law enforcement officers. Lance Robson was there and he filed this report.

Cut – the school board doesn’t want you here… if you enter you will be subject to arrest.. for trespassing…

Dwight Lawton and four others were escorted off of school grounds by six police officers who upheld the school board’s decision to deny the distribution of literature that would inform students and parents of the risks associated with military service.

In a written press release Tampa Bay Veterans for Peace said they “and other groups have been unable to disseminate or post information, meet with and speak to students and to participate in career days. As a result students are denied the opportunity to hear and read about alternative views about military enlistment.�

Dwight Lawton - “some the kids in this school here because they don’t have the information are going to sign with the military not recognizing what that means. That means be trained to kill.. and they’ll be killing civilians and some of them are going to find out that like the thousands that are awol in Iraq & Afghanistan that Hey, I didn’t know I was getting into this… there’s the issue.�

For over six months the counter-recruitment advocates have sought to address students, and have leafleted at all the public schools in Pinellas County at least once.
Linda Hupner also spoke about the group’s efforts.

Cut-

The principal of Lakewood High School, cite of today’s action, echoed the positon of the Pinellas County school board saying the Veterans group had nothing to offer students and therefore should not enjoy the privilege of distributing their literature. Principal Dennis Duda- Cut – paraphrase it is my understanding that their attorney is in discussion with the school board attorney trying to work out a compromise… until then I will be following our policy

But Dwight Lawton told WMNF that legal negotiations have all but ceased due to ever-changing school board criteria. He also said that his group now includes information about jobs in the Peace Corps and other humanitarian employment opportunities in an attempt to meet the school board’s standards, but Lawton says that the school board’s attorneys have been instructed to keep alternative viewpoints from being heard in the schools.

Cut – it appears that school board legal advisors under this is a 1st amendment issue… but the school board has an agenda to keep us out… this is about getting the truth out.. so you can make a good decision and hear the pros and cons.

Veterans for Peace and others will continue to leaflet just beyond the grounds of Pinellas County schools until they are granted the right to educate parents and students in a more direct forum.

To view part of an upcoming counter-recruitment video made with the cooperation of Veterans for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee visit BeforeYouEnlist.org

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