150 Rally

More than 200 Smith college students occupied the administration building at the college starting March 27. The 24 hour a day occupation was continuing as of about 10 a.m. on April 4. The students were calling on the college to stop investing in corporations that make bombs, guns, and other supplies used by Israel to kill people in Gaza. The USA provides much of the money for the genocide.

In a voice phone interview on April 3, a spokesperson for the Smith protesters told the Valley Post that colleges around the USA have harshly punished students for protesting. That is why the spokesperson declined to provide the spokesperson's name. A Smith professor helped the Valley Post make contact with the spokesperson. The spokesperson said, “Today marks one week of our sit-in. We're feeling hopeful and energized. We're getting lots of support from the community. There is a petition on our Instagram page that anyone who lives in the Valley can sign.”

The spokesperson went on, “We met with the (college) president. She refused to let our legal observer be at the meeting. She refused to let us record the meeting. She rejected all our demands except she agreed to investigate the assault of a protester by a Smith employee. The person who was assaulted is OK now. Smith has a $2.5 billion endowment. Some of that should go to Northampton high school so they don't need to lay off 20 teachers and staff people this year. We're modeling our action after protests at Smith that got the college to divest form apartheid South Africa.”

The protesters have a web page at:

www.instagram.com/smith_sjp

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In Amherst on March 28 about 50 people attended a rally. They were protesting harsh punishment by UMass of UMass students who protested US support for Israel's war on Gaza. Toussaint Losier was at the rally. He is a UMass professor. Speaking of UMass's comment in the Gazette's article about the rally, Losier told the Valley Post, “I'm confused about the university's response to the petition, as the petition doesn’t assert that university probation hasn’t been applied in the past to students found responsible for unauthorized access, but I also appreciate the fact that that is the university’s position. Here is what the petition asserts:”

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfcCP-320vlDVXgfWwN0YOZQb49e1Zq...

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In Northampton on April 1, about 100 students walked out of classes at the public high school to protest proposed budget cuts that would mean laying off about 20 teachers and staff. The school's principal did not immediately reply to an email from the Valley Post asking for help arranging an interview with the organizers. The Valley Post will include those quotes in a future article, if the interviews happen.

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In Brattleboro, rallies to call for a ceasefire in Gaza are continuing every Saturday from noon until 1 p.m. outside the main post office. A group that is helping to promote the rallies has a web page at:

https://grassrootsfund.org/groups/upper-valley-action-affinity-group

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In the two counties that are home to Greenfield and Northampton, state campgrounds are almost sold out for this summer. This is not normally the case. Michael Kellett runs a group that has a web site at www.restore.org. He told the Valley Post, "More and more people look forward to camping with family and friends in Massachusetts’s scenic state parks and forests. In contrast, the state's Department of Conservation  and Recreation (DCR) and the MassWildlife agency are logging, burning, and herbiciding our public forests, which most people oppose. The time has come to protect all Massachusetts state-owned lands as parks and reserves, which are protected from logging and other exploitation, similar to our national parks. Bills in the legislature, H.904 and H.4150, would give this protection to most of the state’s public lands."

Kellett put the Valley Post in contact with Janet Sinclair. She grew up in Greenfield and lives in Shelburne, Massachusetts, which borders Greenfield. Sinclair told the Valley Post, “It's great that people are visiting our state forests. But DCR needs more funding to care for all of our properties. And if possible, it makes sense to acquire more properties, and to especially better protect and acquire more reserves where nature is the manager, not foresters. People want that.”

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