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37 SOA Activists' Civil Disobedience Trial Begins

37 Human Rights Activists Stand Trial for Civil Disobedience at SOA

School of the Americas Watch
www.soaw.org/newsroom
July 8, 2002
for immediate release
Contact: Matthew Smucker, media@soaw.org
202.903.7257, 706.221.1824

Trial Begins for 37 Human Rights Activists for Civil Disobedience at School of the Americas

NEWS CONFERENCE

Today, Monday, July 8

8am outside U.S. District Court
1017 1st Ave., Columbus, Georgia

Solemn Procession to Courthouse
7:30am from Howard Johnson
1011 Veterans Parkway


Columbus, GA ­ Thirty-seven human rights activists go to trial in federal court today for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) in Columbus, Georgia. They were among 10,000 who gathered last November to call for the closure of the notorious school. The defendants peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the school. They are charged with trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and $5,000 in fines. Trial before Judge G. Mallon Faircloth in Columbus is expected to last through the week.

Judge Faircloth is known for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC. Seventy-one people have served a total of over forty years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school. Last year 26 people were prosecuted, including Dorothy Hennessey, an 88 year-old Franciscan nun who was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

³Those who speak out for justice are facing harsh prison sentences while SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity,² said SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution. In December 2000 Congress authorized the WHISC to replace the SOA. The renaming of the school was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its reputation. SOA Watch maintains that the underlying purpose of the school, to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by aiding and influencing Latin American militaries, remains the same.

³The SOA is the terrorist training camp in our own backyard,² said Bourgeois.

SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHISC.

The 37 SOA Defendants (listed in order of state) To Arrange Interviews, Call: 202.903.7257

Fr. William O¹Donnell Berkeley, CA, 72, Catholic priest. Member of the San Carlos Foundation.

Leone Reinbold Oakland, CA

Fr. Louis Vitale San Francisco, CA, Franciscan priest. Works with marginalized children and the homeless.

Toni Flynn Valyermo, CA, 56, High Desert Catholic Worker member and a Benedictine Oblate.

Jonna Cohen Denver, CO, 20, MacAllister College student. Student of Maharaji, an Indian spiritual teacher.

Michael Sobol Golden, CO, 18, Graduates HS in May. Plans to defer college for a year to work in Guatemala.

Kathy Shields Boylan Washington DC, 58, Catholic Worker at Dorothy Day Community. Plowshares activist.

Richard Ring Atlanta, GA, 33, Paralegal/human rights investigator. Witnessed trial of SOA grad in Guatemala.

Mary Dean Chicago, IL, 37, Former husband tortured by G-2 (SOA grads) in Guatemala.

Kathleen Desautels Chicago, IL, 64, A Sister of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods for 42 years.

Brigid Conarchy Grayslake, IL, 23, Catholic worker with Little Flower Community in Goochland, VA.

Fr. Jerry Zawada Cedar Lake, IN, 65, Franciscan priest and Ecumenical. Just returned from Palestine.

Janice Sevre-Duszynska Nicholasville, KY, 52, High School ESL teacher. Women¹s ordination activist.

Ralph Madsen Newtonville, MA, 68, Retired elementary school teacher. Stationed at Ft. Benning in 1956.

Palmer Legare Springfield, MA, Student at Springfield College. Low-income housing issues organizer.

Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch Ann Arbor, MI, 41, Presbyterian minister.

Maxwell Sadler Edwards Waterville, ME

Summer Nelson Missoula, MT, 26, Environmentalist active in Buffalo Field Campaign & Earth First.

Tom Mahedy Wall, NJ, 39, Former Navy ROTC. Traveled to Central America with Pastors for Peace.

Linda Holzbaur Ithaca, NY, 45, Mother of four. Peace activist. Part time journalist. Catholic Worker.

Rae Kramer Syracuse, NY, 55, Domestic violence activist. Member of Jewish Peace Fellowship.

Laura MacDonald Syracuse, NY, 23, Works with children with disabilities. Syracuse Peace Council.

Mike Pasquale Syracuse, NY, 33, Catholic. Program Director at Family Center.

Chani Geigle Salem, OR 19, Student. Works with Oregon Peace Works mobilizing youth for social justice.

Shannon McManimon Philadelphia, PA 26, Catholic Worker at Martha House Community.

Rev. Erik Johnson Maryville, TN, 57, Presbyterian Church minister. Father and grandfather.

Kenneth Crowley Houston, TX, 60, Parent educator. Catholic. Member of Pax Christi.

Niklan Jones-Lezama Blacksburg, VA, 38, married to Nicaraguan Sandinista. Part of fact-finding delegations.

David O¹Neill Elkton, VA

Lee Sturgis Elkton, VA

Peter Gelderloos Harrisonburg, VA 19, Involved in community organizing around numerous justice issues.

Abi Miller Harrisonburg, VA, 23, Involved in a community center, community gardens, and tutoring ESL.

Sue Daniels Pembroke, VA, 41, a doctoral student in avian conservation biology.

Nancy Gowen Richmond, VA, 68, Member of Pax Christi and Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.

Lisa Hughes W. Hartford, VT, 36, Worked in El Salvador as a nurse. Member of War Resisters League.

John Heid Luck, WI, 47, Quaker, living and working on social justice issues. Member of Veterans for Peace.

Kate Fontanazza Milwaukee, WI 53, Teacher. Catholic. Member of Pax Christi and Peace Action.

# # #


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