Students and community members organized a demonstration at a town-hall meeting of North Carolina congressperson, Heath Shuler at the University of North Carolina at Asheville March 26th. Shuler visited UNC-Asheville March 26th to hold a “town hall meeting”, but was met with protest as members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Hispanic Outreach for Learning Awareness (HOLA) interrupted his talk to demand a stop to repression against immigrants and an immediate end to the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.
Shuler took office in the 2007 Congressional elections. The election resulted in the Democratic Party taking the majority in Congress. The November 2007 election was understood to be a referendum on the war and the backwards Republican agenda. People voted this way because they are sick of the war, spearheaded by Bush and the Republicans, which is bringing so much misery to the people of Iraq and working people in the United States.
Many people in Western North Carolina had high hopes for Shuler, but since his election he has done nothing to bring the troops home from Iraq. In fact, he has refused to vote against cutting funding for Bush’s war, which has been the main demand from the anti-war movement on congress since the election. Not only that, but he has since introduced a bill that would further persecute undocumented workers, the “SAVE act.” This act would further militarize the boarders by obtaining idle equipment from the Department of Defense including HUM-Vs, armaments, and surveillance equipment. The SAVE act would also require employers to investigate the immigration status of employees through an “E-Verify” mechanism. Everybody knows that this would further enable greedy bosses to squeeze their employees through the threat of blackmail. Heath Shuler has failed through inaction and excuses to end the illegal occupation of Iraq. He has now actively taken it upon himself to make life harder for immigrants. It has become increasingly clear that Shuler has no interest in challenging the status quo. The people of Western North Carolina elected Heath Shuler expecting at least some relief, but instead go inaction on the war and attacks on immigrants. And that’s why UNCA’ Students for a Democratic Society and HOLA, Hispanic Outreach for Learning Awareness organized a demonstration at Shuler’s “town hall meeting” at UNCA
Members of UNCA SDS sat in the audience through Shuler’s talk. Shuler talked a lot about the day to day life of a congressperson and how committees work. Later he began to speak about Iraq and how he wouldn’t vote to stop funding the war because he didn’t want to abandon the troops. No one in the audience was buying his garbage. A woman’s voice could be heard from the back of the room saying, “It’s a war crime!” And it was clear that most in the room agreed with her statement. During the following question and answer period, where softball questions were selected by Shuler’s aides, HOLA entered the room carrying signs denouncing Shuler’s SAVE act, and the members of UNCA SDS in the audience stood up and revealed the t-shirts they had been wearing that said “NO WAR ON IMMIGRANTS, NO WAR ON IRAQ.”
The crowd was surprised at first, but then the protesters began getting thumbs up from the remaining audience. When the demonstration spilled out into the lobby HOLA and SDS were joined by a great many community members who were also fed up with Shuler’s behavior.
Written by Michael Graham
(images credited to: http://ashevilleontheground.blogspot.com/ )