San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice remembers: Audrey Castellanos

Adurey Castellanos  Dec. 25, 1986 - May 26, 2006

On Friday, May 26th a local peace activist was killed in a car crash on her way back from her first year at U.C. Santa Cruz. Her name was Audrey Castellanos. She was a graduate of Carson High School and a founder of the Carson High School Peace Coalition.

There is a new student movement in the South Bay and Audrey Castellanos was one of its best representatives.

This movement expresses itself through student walkouts to demand immigrant rights and the journey of hundreds of students to South Central Farms to support the communities demand for green space and their own resources.

Audrey’s and perhaps the movement’s biggest impact has been student activity opposing the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year Audrey and students from the Carson High Peace Coalition confronted military recruiters who had arrived on campus with a Humvee (yes, the military was driving military equipment onto high school campuses). The Humvee hasn’t returned since.

This year a student from the Carson High School Peace Coalition and another student from the San Pedro World Peace Club spoke before the Los Angeles School Board. They told the school board about the disruptions to their education when the military drives their vehicles onto campus and conducts "chin-up" contests for prizes such as key chains and CDs. They made the demand that if a branch of the armed services wanted to drive their vehicle on campus they should get permission from the school’s administration. In the past THE MILITARY HAD NOT EVEN RECEIVED PERMISSION BEFORE THEY BROUGHT THEIR VEHICLES ONTO A HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS. As a result of their simple but straightforward presentation the School Board made a request in writing mandatory for all on-site vehicle visits to high schools. The students at high schools through out Los Angeles now report that these visits have all but disappeared, including the Armed Forces helicopter visits to middle schools!

Audrey was also the founding editor of a local high school ‘zine called the Activist. The paper is written, edited and produced by high school youth active in the area’s high school peace clubs. (For copies of this please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..) Articles in the most recent issue talk about the experience of local students during the high school school walkouts, there is an article on how to support the troops but oppose the war, and another one about places for high school students to have fun. Audrey encouraged Random Lengths News, San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice, and the ACLU to support the paper, which has now been in existence for two years.

It is the bitter experience of many in the local peace movement that despite 72% of soldiers in Iraq opposing their own presence and over 2/3 of the American people against the war it is difficult to effectively oppose the war. Many believe that, as in so many times in history it will be the youth who will lead the way. In high schools throughout the South Bay, California and the nation 16 and 17 year olds are raising the most effective opposition to an unjust and illegal war, and it shows. Recruitment levels are so low that soldiers are seeing two and three tours of duties, ill-equipped National Guardsmen are being placed in dangerous combat roles and reservists are being called up.

Peace posters and a collage of Audrey’s heroes adorned the walls for Audrey’s viewing Sunday evening in Wilmington. They were Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Dylan, the folk singer, Che Guevara, Noam Chomsky and Joe Hill, the organizer for the IWW who stated "Don’t mourn for me, organize!"

I would like to announce that in Audrey’s name San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice has set up a scholarship fund in Audrey’s name for its annual High School Peace Camp (June 26 – 30, 2006). Each year several students will be chosen for this scholarship so that the next wave of student leaders will have the opportunity to re-visit Audrey’s contributions to a world without war.

Chris Venn

Please send your contribution to:

San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice
Audrey Castellanos Peace Camp Scholarship Fund
P O Box 804
San Pedro, CA 90733

$75 will sponsor one camper for a week, but any amount is welcome!



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