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At a gathering to honor Vietnam War protesters, students say their university is priming them to work for the country’s military industrial complex

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TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. We’ve been covering a student activist movement here at Johns Hopkins University. It’s Youth Against War and Racism. They’re here to celebrate the Catonsville Nine, as well as to push back against what they consider to be Johns Hopkins’ pro-war agenda.

MIRANDA BACHMAN: The Catonsville Nine occurred 50 years ago this month. It was a really radical militant event in which nine Catholic antiwar activists broke into a recruitment draft office in Catonsville, which is a town right outside of the city here, and they burned 378 draft files, with homemade napalm, actually. So we’re here to commemorate that, and to, you know, widely say no to war and racism, no to U.S. imperialism, no war at home and abroad.

ANDREW: It’s about honoring their legacy, honoring the work that they put in, and sort of the symbolic power of that. But we also wanted to make sure that youth and young people, young students, young workers are able to take up the mantle of anti-imperialism and anti-war.

SARA: Johns Hopkins University has a huge recruitment effort for the CIA, and for a lot of federal surveillance and military jobs, like weapons companies. And they’re sending their students directly to work for them. So they’re basically just teaching and sending out little imperialist people.

ANDREW: Part of our action today was assembling a whole bunch of recruitment materials, got it from recruitment offices. But that’s part of something that we’re urging people to do, is tear down recruitment posters.

MIRANDA BACHMAN: We’ve had a couple actions so far. We shut down a recruitment event that was going on at Johns Hopkins a few weeks ago. The CIA came. This was really in line with this idea that the military, branches of the military, agencies , war agencies such as the NSA, CIA, and even like ROTC on campuses, are creating, have created this school-to-war pipeline where even at, especially at these elite universities, looking for students studying engineering and political science to come and empower these agencies.

ANDREW POWELL: I’m here to to mark the 50th anniversary of the events in Catonsville 50 years ago by Philip and Daniel Berrigan brothers, and others. At that time I was a teenager, and the U.S. was in the midst of the Vietnam War. And many teenagers and many youth were against the war itself. To me it’s an honor to be here to remember the the bold tactics that they used. And I’m very heartened to see today that we have 50 years later other youth who are still here to take a stand against the continuing United States war machine.

VANESSA: [Inaudible] the way the down, because we have to really stop the hate and the fight. Stop killing people, because these are the people are the future. We need love and inspiration. Good morning.

SPEAKER: And we stand together in solidarity to gain everything, and the fearless building of a new world, filled with self-determination for all people.

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Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.