Fwd: 12,000 protest at SOA, 4,400 arrested

KDean75206 at SPAMaol.com KDean75206 at SPAMaol.com
Sun Nov 21 22:22:40 MST 1999



4, 408 Risk Arrest in Mass Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Protest of U.S.
Army School of
the Americas

Human Rights Activists Seized and Detained for Crossing Line onto
Military Base Property

FT. BENNING, GA (SOA Watch, http://www.soaw.org/) - Calling for the shut
down of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, nearly 5,000 human rights
activists risked arrest Sunday, November 21 by crossing the line
onto the Ft. Benning military base in protest of the School's long bloody
association with
human rights atrocities and massacres throughout Latin America. The
demonstration honored
the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter on the 10th
anniversary of
their murder in El Salvador at the hands of SOA graduates.

The line crossing was led by a solemn procession of protesters in black
mourning shrouds
and white "death masks" who carried full-sized coffins and tiny, white
child-sized coffins
to symbolize the thousands of men, women, and children killed and
"disappeared" by
graduates of the military training school. As the names of the victims of
SOA violence
were called aloud, actor Martin Sheen and long-time peace activist and
Catholic priest
Daniel Berrigan led a wave of protesters across the line drawn on the
pavement marking the
entrance to the army post. Thousands in the crowd and in line carried
white wooden crosses
bearing the names of SOA victims. Last year, 2,319 people crossed the
line.

Sunday's action was the culmination of a weekend of protest at the Ft.
Benning military
camp, which drew more than 12,000 from around the country. Leading the
states with the
highest number of people crossing the line and risking arrest were NY
with 315, OH with
303, IL and MN tied with 249, and NC with 227.

This is the 9th year that the national advocacy group SOA Watch has
organized a mass
demonstration in Ft. Benning. Earlier this week, SOA Watch criticized an
announcement by
the Army that it will change its name and rewrite its charter. These
so-called "reforms"
have been announced in the past and are little more than an image
polishing exercise,
according to SOA Watch founder and co-director Roy Bourgeois, who added
that the SOA still
intends to train soldiers in psychological warfare, counter-insurgency
techniques, and
combat skills.

"We are telling the leaders of SOA that they can change their name and
move the school,
but we are not going away," said Adriana Portillo-Bartow of Chicago, a
Guatemalan human
rights worker. "Where they go, we will go. We will not rest," she told
the crowd, minutes
before the procession began.
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