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NEW YORK CITY,  NY — This past Thursday, Filipino-Americans joined the “Million Student March,” a nationwide action across 120 college campuses, demanding tuition-free education, the cancellation of all student debt, and $15 minimum wage for all campus workers. Anakbayan New York joined the rally in New York City with more than 200 students throughout the City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s largest urban public university system that claims to ensure that students, faculty and staff have equal access and opportunities for “upward mobility.”

The protest began outside CUNY Hunter College, where many student and community organizations spoke. Red, Anakbayan New York’s Vice Chairperson, highlighted the relationship of education and militarization within CUNY:  “Here in New York, in the belly of the beast, CUNY’s Board of Trustees crossed the line when they hired retired CIA head David Petraeus to promote US imperialism amongst working class black and brown students.”

The contingent then marched towards the apartment building of the CUNY chancellor James Milliken, who was reported to be paying $19,500 per month for rent. The students were met with the police and were threatened with arrest, but the protest ended peacefully with no arrests. The contingent chanted, “We’ll be back,” as they marched back to Hunter College to conclude the rally.

“Anakbayan joined the rally because we want our tax dollars to go to free education here and not to fund the sending of US military aid to the Philippines, which has fueled the Philippine military to disrupt and destroy the education of the Filipino people like the indigenous Lumad people,” said JM Lopez, Chairperson of Anakbayan New York.

“In the Philippines, the military has been killing many educators and community leaders – people who have taught in schools not built by the government but built by the people for the people,” said Red, Vice Chairperson of Anakbayan New York.

Mike, Anakbayan New York’s Education Officer, said, “by pushing for a democratic, scientific, and pro-people education, we as Anakbayan New York are looking to unite with other progressive and revolutionary youth in a movement that demands that our education be determined by us as students, our working class and oppressed communities, the teachers, and campus workers. We want it to be scientific in that we want to receive an education that is open and honest to us that would lead us away from the lies and illusions of the oppressors. Finally, for the pro-people part, we want an education that teaches us to serve the people and defeat the white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal, capitalist-imperialist system.”

Kaya, a high school youth and member of Anakbayan NY said, “uniting with marginalized students of NYC is not only for the liberation of CUNY but is also for the liberation of and honoring of all globally oppressed peoples. Knowing that this campaign will actively work to serve the masses and make efforts to demilitarize the Philippines and unite us as an overseas chapter of Anakbayan Philippines was groundbreaking for me.”

Anakbayan New York is a chapter of Anakbayan-USA, a national youth and student organization working to educate, organize and mobilize the Filipino community to address important issues that affect Filipinos in the US and the Philippines. It has 11 chapters in major cities in the United States. ###