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**Update MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22: PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maya   
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 00:48

On Sunday the Judge found 23 of the 24 who were arrested by the city guilty on all charges including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and parading without a permit. The total of bonds and fines exceed $75,000 (which does not include appeals). A full legal update will be posted soon from our legal collective, including on the four individuals who courageously crossed the line onto the base to protest the SOA and face federal charges.

We have seen extraordinary solidarity in our movement in raising the money needed through loans and donations to release everyone arrested. People were trickling out of the jail until 4am this is morning. We have been able to raise close to $30,000 in an extremely short amount of time. This is unprecedented for SOAW. We are so grateful for both the people present here in Fort Benning, and our network across the Americas where donations and loans have been pouring in to ensure the speediest release for the arrestees.

We encourage you to help spread the word to ensure the people who put themselves on the line are taken care of by our community. Please donate here. We still desperately need to pay back our loans and raise additional money that will be needed for the state charges and court fees.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 05:26
 
Urgent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Sunday, 21 November 2010 15:13

URGENT!  We urgently need money to bond people out of jail.

Please make a donation to the SOA Watch Legal Defense Fund

As a community of resistance, we need to take care of our prisoners. The conditions in Muscogee County jail are deplorable and we need funds to pay the bond money, which has been set as high as $5,500. Several people engaged in nonviolent direct action and blocked the road to the Highway entrance to Fort Benning, others were arrested by the Columbus police as they were leaving the vigil area on the sidewalk. Several journalists and bystanders were swept up in the arrests as well.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 November 2010 17:44
 
26 People Arrested and Held in County Jail on Mulitple Charges PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nico Udu-gama   
Sunday, 21 November 2010 02:23

Thousands Converge at the gates of Fort Benning for 20th Anniversary of November Vigil to Close the SOA

Nonviolent civil disobedience action followed by indiscriminate arrests and targeting of journalists. Among those arrested by Columbus police were three journalists, including unrelated bystanders.

Thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, veterans, faith-based communities, union workers, students, musicians and others from across the Americas are gathered today at the gates of the U.S. military base Fort Benning to call for the closure of the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

Following the SOA Watch rally, human rights activists brought their nonviolent witness to close the SOA into the street leading onto the military base. The activists briefly shut down the road with a large sign that said, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA." Their action is part of a longstanding tradition of creative civil disobedience to call attention to the atrocities committed by graduates of the School of the Americas. 10-12 people were arrested, and others charged, including the 90-year old Jesuit priest Bill Brennan, and ordained Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska.

Two human rights activists crossed onto Fort Benning through the highway entrance. They have been charged with federal trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and a fine up to $5,000.

When the rally participants tried to leave the vigil area, the police blocked off all exit points. After a few minutes, the police allowed people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in civil disobedience. Among those arrested were journalists, who were filming the police misconduct and bystanders. All arrestees are currently being held in the Muscogee County Jail for up to a $5,500 bond.



Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 21:23
 
Please Send Footage of Arrests PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   

The SOAW 26 is being charged with various crimes that they did not commit, and we are looking for footage and pictures of the arrests that will be used as legal evidence.


We want this information as quickly as possible, by 3pm today, but your information will be useful whenever it is sent.


Please email photos to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


If videos can be uploaded to youTube and the links sent to the above email address, that is best, but please don't hesitate to contact us immediately about the footage that you do have at 317-966-2281.

 
Nov. 19-21: Converge on Fort Benning PDF Print E-mail
**Update SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20th:

Amidst a heightened police presence around the gates of Ft. Benning, today thousands heeded the call of "We are One America!" and manifested their opposition to the School of the Americas and oppressive U.S. foreign policy.  The voices of torture survivors, immigrant farm workers, people of faith, students, musicians and activists carried the message of peace with justice over the barbed-wire fences, guns, and lies that protect the School of Assassins.

After an uplifting day of speakers and cultural showcases, groups and individuals followed the Puppetistas towards the corner of Victory Drive and Ft. Benning Road, where several activists had temporarily blocked the street that is leading towards the highway entrance of Fort Benning, Georgia. Father Louis Vitale (4th time line crosser) and Nancy Smith crossed the line onto Ft. Benning property at the highway entrance in order to carry their protest to the School of the Americas.  Their action was a response to the three layers of barb-wired fences in the area surrounding the main gate that keeps human rights activists from being able to carry out their nonviolent action at the vigil site.  Among the participants who will be charged with the action were ordained woman Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska and 90 year-old Jesuit Bill Brennan.

A police blockade at the corner of Torch Hill Road and Ft. Bennning Road police indiscriminately arrested some people with very little and no warning, starting with a person of color who had dreadlocks, impeding the Puppetistas and activists from proceeding further.   The arrests including four members of the Russia Today news agency who were filming the arrests.  A half-hour after people dispersed, police singled out SOAW organizer Charity Ryerson from a small group headed to their cars and arrested her.

SOA Watch has a long history of nonviolent civil disobedience that continues to bring the life and death of the people of Latin America to the site of the historic US tool of violent militarism, the School of the Americas.  We are committed to putting ourselves in the way of the war machine until the School is closed and a formal truth commission investigates the impact of its violence on the countries of Latin America that have suffered under the 11 military dictators who have graduated from the school.

Some News Coverage:

Click here to read the great article that was just published in The Guardian

** Friday, Nov.19

More and more people are arriving in Columbus for this weekend's vigil and rally at the gates of Fort Benning. Together, we will speak out for justice and call for an end to oppressive U.S. foreign policy. We will close the School of the Americas. Nonviolent civil disobedience has a long tradition within the movement to close the SOA and other movements for social change. Tomorrow, following the Saturday rally, people of consciece will take the call for peace, justice and dignity into the streets and back into their communities across the Americas.

The vigil at the Stewart Detention Center this morning was a powerful witness for immigrant justice. 8 people were arrested when they engaged in civl disobedience (Check back soon for a detailed report back). Stewart Detention Center is one of the largest immigrant prisons in the United States. Many of the immigrants who are incarcerated are victims of U.S.-sponsored military training and atrocities in Latin America. They fled their home countries becuase of the conditions that are being enforced by repressive militaries only to be tageted here in the United States by unjust immigration policies. We ally ourselves with those most affected by SOA violence and their families in our effort to create a better world.

Latin America Solidarity Coalition's Organizers Conference report back

Sixty organizers for groups affiliated with the Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC), met Thursday, Nov. 18, in Columbus, GA, in advance of the annual SOA Watch vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning, GA. The LASC conference was an action focused conference with the aim to build a stronger movement to oppose US militarism and the militarization of relations with Latin America. Break-out groups made specific proposals of campaigns and organizing tools to build the movement around issues such as US bases, the Pentagon budget, and the coups in Haiti and Honduras. Plans were also made to enlist greater support within key sectors such as students and youth, women, labor, etc. One of the most exciting proposals to come out of the conference was to organize an activist training school on confronting US militarism. In the final plenary participating organizations and individuals volunteered to take responsibility for various pieces or the proposed projects. The work of the conference will be deepened in a weekend conference in Washington, DC April 8-10, 2011.

**Thursday, November 18th, 10am:

The Latin America Solidarity Coalition's Conference against Militarization kicks-off today at 1pm at the PuppetistaQuality Inn (1325 Veterans Parkway).  Puppetista march through Columbus at 5pm (gather at 1353 23rd St).  The weather is warm, sunny and perfect for celebrating the resistance at the gates of Ft. Benning! Join us!

From November 19-21, 2010, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning to stand up for justice and call for the SOA/WHINSEC to be shut down! Below are some helpful links for your trip planning, and a sneak peak into what SOA Watch has lined up for this year! (para información en español, haga click aquí)

Still looking for a ride to Georgia? Visit our rideboard, and click here for more helpful travel tips.

Still looking for a place to stay in Georgia? Check out hotels, motels, and camping in and around Columbus, GA!

Organizing Packet (Paquete Organizativo)

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

MORNING PLENARY SPEAKERS!


Engage in Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/WHINSEC

This year there will be different ways for people to be involved in the Saturday action including crossing the line of the base of Fort Benning which risks federal arrest, or a city side action, outside the permitted area. But note that you may also participate without risking arrest. SOA Watch has permits for the activities in front of the base, and the acts of civil disobedience for those risking arrest will be clearly marked.

Legal Briefing for Those Considering Crossing the Line or Civil Disobedience on Federal Property

Legal Briefing for Those Considering Civil Disobedience in Columbus ON CITY OR STATESIDE PROPERTY

For more information click here; Para información en español haz clíc aquí

NONVIOLENCE TRAININGS AND PRINCIPLES


Stage Program:

The stage program at the gates of Fort Benning will take place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 11:30am - 4pm and on Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 8am - 2pm. The program will feature leaders from the resistance against the illegitimate U.S.-supported government in Honduras; Padre Jesus Alberto Franco, a renowned leader from Colombia, risking his life working with Afro-Colombian, indigenous and mixed-race farmers in resistance; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Marie Dennis, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and Co-President of Pax Christi International; United Auto Worker president Bob King; the Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz from the Bronx; the puppetistas, musicians and many other beautiful people.

Above: Rebel Diaz


Workshops and Vendors:

The vigil at the gates of Fort Benning has become one of the largest annual progressive gatherings in the country. This year, 60+ tables hosted by progressive organizations and fair trade retailers will line Fort Benning Road throughout the weekend. Pick up a cup of fair trade, organic coffee at the Café Campesino tent, check out empowering literature at the Catholic Worker Bookstore, and learn about Witness for Peace's fall campaign at their table.

Dozens of workshops and other events will be held throughout the weekend at the Columbus Convention Center. Organizations and individuals such as Ann Wright, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Símon Sedillo, the Colombia Support Network, Pax Christi USA, and MANY others, will hold infomative sessions throughout the weekend. There will also be concerts, student meet-ups, a Catholic liturgy at which Bishop Thomas Gumbleton will preside, a hip hop show case, film screenings including The Coca Cola Case and Quién Dijo Miedo (Inside the Coup in Honduras), nonviolence trainings, and other exciting events to look forward to! For a full list of events, click here.

**Please join in on Nonviolence Trainings Friday morning and afternoon. The practice of nonviolent direct action is an essential part of the movement to close the School of the Americas and it is only successful if we are constantly practicing and improving our nonviolent pressure.**


4th Annual Vigil at the Stewart Detention Center

Friday, November 19th @ 10AM in Lumpkin, Georgia

SOA Watch calls for justice for all immigrants including those held inhumanely and without due process at the Stewart Detention Center, an isolated, for-profit facility. We contend that many immigrants to the United States, particularly those from Latin America, are victims of U.S.-sponsored military training and other atrocious policies around issues like trade and immigration. Click here to read more...

If you are interested in participating in this vigil, contact Becca Polk, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Those leaving from Columbus will meet outside the Convention Center (801 Front Ave.) at 8:15am to join the caravan led by a member of Georgia Detention Watch. Please notify Becca if you are able to drive.


we can do it!YOU can make this year's vigil even better: VOLUNTEER TODAY!

  • URGENT! We need two people with A/V expertise (production) to help out from Friday morning to Saturday evening, at the Convention Center.  Please email Nico at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you can help!
  • Become a Peacemaker
  • Get creative! Join the Puppetistas!
  • Educate people at the legislative table near the stage, contact Theresa at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Help with translation and interpretation. We still need bi-lingual English-Spanish interpreters. Contact Sara at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Marcos at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , to volunteer!
  • Volunteer with the medics team, contact Larry at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Other volunteer tasks include: sitting at the event registration table, delivering programs to hotels, unloading tables and chairs for Saturday and Sunday's events at the gates, and more! Contact Nico at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , to help with vigil logistics in Georgia.

Donate to the SOA Watch Silent Auction

The third annual auction will be held in conjunction with the annual SOA Watch vigil from November 19-21 in the Columbus Convention Center. Some ideas for auction items you might donate: crafts, jewelry, artwork, local foods, fair trade coffee or chocolate, wine, a few days in your country/lake cabin or condo! Please contact Lisa at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and let her know what item you can donate to the auction and she will be in touch with you about details of how to get it to the auction.


Make History: Endorse the November Vigil

With less than a month to go, many organizations have expressed their support for the closing of the SOA/WHINSEC and for our 2010 vigil. We are heartened by the solidarity and support felt across the Americas!

Current endorsers include: the United Auto Workers; the Student-Farmworker Alliance; Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A); Fellowship of Reconciliation; United for Peace and Justice; Catholics United; Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW); Womens' International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section; A.N.S.W.E.R.; Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); and dozens of other faith, community, worker and peace groups from around the country.

Would your organization like to endorse the vigil and campaign to close the SOA/WHINSEC today? Click here to see a list of current endorsers and to add your organization in one, easy step!

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