Student Organizers Lead Rally in Support of Assange

International Youth and Students for Social Equality held a rally at the Kimmel steps on Tuesday, March 3 to press for the release of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning from prison.


Mina Mohammadi

A rally is held at the Kimmel Stairs by International Youth and Students and Students for Social Equality on 2020 Super Tuesday. “Free Julian Assange, Free Chelsea Manning” rang from the Kimmel Stairs last night as Super Tuesday polling results rolled in. (Staff photo by Mina Mohammadi)

Mina Mohammadi, Deputy News Editor

“Free Julian Assange, free Chelsea Manning” rang from the Kimmel Center for University Life Stairs on Tuesday, March 3.

Members of the NYU International Youth and Students for Social Equality and the broader New York Chapter came together to protest the jailing of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, two whistleblowers who leaked classified information on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through WikiLeaks in 2010 which sparked anger surrounding U.S. intervention abroad. Their broader agenda included advocating for the rights of the working class. 

Gallatin first-year Sam Church is an IYSSE supporter who feels strongly about the cause and came to rally. 

“There is a good case to be made that people like Assange should be able to report on war crimes without repercussions,” Church said. “It’s a clear violation of human rights and we should stand against it.”

At the same time, Church had hints of unease in his decision to be vocal about his support for Assange’s liberation. Last May, Assange was accused of rape while in prison, but Sweden dropped the investigation in November. 

“I am hesitant to too publicly support him because of his alleged allegations of rape,” Church said. “The quality of his character does not have to do with the legal precedent of his jailing.”

CAS Senior and IYSSE NYU President Sam Mitchell, also voiced support for Assange and Manning’s freedoms. 

“We hold events like this to mobilize students,” Mitchell said. “Quite frankly, it might well be Assange and Manning today, but it could also be you or I tomorrow.”

As Democratic primary results rolled in, many protestors also voiced their hopes for the election. IYSSE supports the Independent Socialist Equality Party U.S. presidential candidate, Joseph Kishore. Mitchell argued that Bernie Sanders’ socialism is not enough to radically change politics.

“We did not hold this to be on Super Tuesday. It did honestly just happen to line up,” Mitchell said. “At the same time, this is a good venue to talk about the political sphere and spark conversation.”

Josh Varlin, 24, a member of IYSSE of New York, talked about the importance of mobilizing students and young people.

“There is a section of young people who are looking to defend democracy, and we seek to provide them with a perspective,” Varlin said. “There are some students who are taking the time to stand and listen to what we are saying, that is our goal.”

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