|15 Human Rights Activists Facing Trial for Nonviolent Direct Action at the White House in Washington, DC to Close the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)|
September 7, 2011
for immediate release
15 Human Rights Activists Facing Trial for Nonviolent Direct Action at the White House in Washington, DC to Close the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)69 Members of Congress Sent a Letter to President Obama, Calling for the Closure of the Notorious U.S. Military Training School for Latin American Soldiers.
Press Availability on Monday, Sept. 12 at 8:00 a.m. at DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW
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Click here for a video of the march and the arrests at the White House
Washington, DC - 15 human rights advocates are scheduled to go on trial on Monday, September 12, 2011 for engaging in nonviolent direct action at the White House in Washington, DC. The “White House 27,” a group of human rights advocates who staged a die-in on the White House sidewalk on April 10, 2011, to call on President Obama to shut down the notorious School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to put an end to the U.S. militarization of the Americas. The 15 defendants are facing the criminal charges of “failure to obey a lawful order” and “blocking and incommoding.” Despite facing a criminal trial, the human rights advocates are not intimidated.
“The real criminals are those responsible for the use of the torture manuals at the School of the Americas and those who continue to promote ‘military solutions’ for social problems,” says Ann Tiffany, one of the defendants. “We will use the courtroom to put the SOA itself on trial.”
At 8:00 a.m. on Monday, September 12, 2011, the human rights and peace activists will be available to speak with the media. They will then proceed to a trial, which will be held in Courtroom 120 of DC Superior Court.
The SOA/WHINSEC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 2009, SOA graduates overthrew the democratically elected government of Honduras. The direct action at the White House was part of a larger effort to increase pressure on President Obama to close the SOA by Executive Order.
In August 2011, a letter signed by 69 Members of the House of Representatives was delivered to President Obama. The 69 signers, including Rep. John Lewis from Georgia, Ron Paul from Texas and James McGovern from Massachusetts, are calling on the President to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC.
In addition to observing that closing the school would save “$180 million over [the next] ten years,” the signatories highlight the failure of the Pentagon to address issues raised over ten years ago, when popular opposition to the school forced its very temporary closure and renaming. The signers note, “In 1999, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted by a bipartisan margin to close the SOA, the Pentagon moved the following year to close the SOA one morning, and the very next morning open the WHINSEC, on the same site, with the same faculty and classes.”
Major religious communities, human rights groups and labor unions like the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, the NAACP, the Presbyterian Church, the UCC and over 100 U.S. Catholic Bishops are all advocating for the closure of the SOA/ WHINSEC.
SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHINSEC.
The defendants are:
Alice Gerard, Grand Island, New York
Ann Tiffany, Syracuse, New York
Chris Gaunt, Grinnell, Iowa
David Barrows, Washington, DC
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, New York
Eve Tetaz, Washington, DC
Jack Gilroy, Endwell, New York
Judith Kelly, Arlington, Virginia
Maia Rodriguez, Arlington, Virginia
Megan Felt, Des Moines, Iowa
Nico Udu-gama, Washington, DC
Paki Wieland, Northampton, Massachusetts
Priscilla Treska, Cleveland, Ohio
Sarah Sommers, Cleveland, Ohio
Scott Wright, Washington, DC
School of the Americas Watch
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