Edward Dubose of the NAACP and 2,500 human rights activists chanted "You Can't Stop the Revolution" at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia (video). We are as determined as ever to end militarized state violence in the US and abroad.
The 25th November Vigil themed "Communities in Resistance, Presentes!" was a great success and brought together torture survivors, migrants, people of faith, students, union workers and grassroots activists from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Venezuela, Canada, and the United States. Together, we are building a new culture of justice and peace. Click here to watch a video from the vigil by Jihan Hafiz and check out the photos by Tom Bottolene, Amy Held, and others.
Linking Immigrant Rights and the Struggle against US Militarization:
On Saturday, November 22 a procession of over 1,000 human rights activists marched from Lumpkin, Georgia to the Stewart Detention Center. Activists called for an end to the unjust imprisonment of immigrants and denounced the clear connection between US militarization and forced migration. Click here for photos from the march to Stewart.
On Sunday, November 23, the solemn funeral procession at the gates of Fort Benning commemorated those murdered at the hands of School of the Americas/WHINSEC graduates, including 16-year old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests, who were massacred in 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador, as well as activists from Honduras, Mexico and Colombia killed earlier this year.
If you attended the November Vigil, we want to hear from you. Please take a moment to fill out the vigil survey.
Simultaneous actions were organized in Bogota, Colombia and in Santiago, Chile. Click here to watch a video from the Colombia action, which took place on November 21 in front of the Defense Ministry, demanding that Colombia stop sending soldiers to the SOA/ WHINSEC. For a report back and photos from the march to the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, click here.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Speakers on the stage at the gates of Fort Benning, and in several of the workshops in the Columbus Convention Center, talked about the link between US-backed militarization in Latin America, and the militarization of US police forces. The looming decision about possible charges against the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, was on everyones mind. When the appalling Grand Jury decision was announced on Monday, SOA Watch activists joined countless marches and rallies, and took to the streets throughout the country. Our struggles stand together!
Yesterday, we took to the streets again, as part of the national day of action against Plan Mexico. In DC, we joined forces with #DCFerguson, and shut down Dupont Circle to call attention to the murder of 43 students from #Ayotzinapa in Mexico, the police murder of Eric Garner and Mike Brown; and to protest the militarization of our communities across the Americas.
Nonviolent Direct Action in Georgia - Crossing the Line
Nonviolent Direct Action and prison witness has been a key element of many struggles for social justice. Seven of our friends were arrested during the vigil weekend and are facing charges:
On Sunday, November 23, Eve Tetaz, an 83-year-old author, veteran peace and justice activist and retired public schoolteacher from Washington, DC, crossed through a side entrance onto the Fort Benning military base in a solitary nonviolent witness, carrying with her a poster of one of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, disappeared in Mexico, and the prophetic Isaiah verse, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” After the procession at the main gates concluded, longtime SOA Watch activist Nashua Chantal, a 62-year-old human rights defender from Americus, Georgia, carried a ladder to the fence which military police erected to keep our peaceful message from entering the base. This is the third arrest at Fort Benning for Nashua, who previously served a three-month sentence in 2005 and six months in 2013 for crossing the line. Click here to watch a video of Nashua crossing the line.
Nashua and Eve are scheduled to appear in court for their arraignment on January 13, 2015. They are facing up to six months in federal prison for their nonviolent witness for justice.
Five other solidarity activists, Anton Flores, Jason McGaughey, Kevin Caron, Maureen Fitzsimons, and Rebecca Kanner were arrested on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at the gates of the Stewart Detention Center. The five carried their nonviolent message of justice and dignity for all onto the property of the Corrections Corporation of America, which warehouses 1,800 men at Stewart for profit in horrific conditions which dehuminize and attempt to take away migrant's dignity. Click here to watch a video of the civil disobedience action.
SOA/WHINSEC training is among the roots causes which force people to migrate and flee their countries. Many immigrants to the United States are victims of US-sponsored military atrocities in Latin America. In its fight to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, SOA Watch continues to work towards a world that is free of suffering and violence. SOA Watch considers deportation quotas, mandatory detention, for-profit immigration detention centers, the militarization of the border, the drug war and the training of repressive forces at the SOA/WHINSEC, as all parts of the same racist system of violence and domination. A dismantling of these and other policies is needed for there ever to be true "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."
Get organized! For tips for your local organizing work on creating egalitarian structures, building community, holding meetings, speaking publicly, fundraising etc, visit soaw.org/organize
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