Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I am stressed by the continually strict sentences of protestors active with SOA Watch have been receiving under a judge in Georgia. SOA Watch reported their stories in an email to me this week.

I respect non-violent witnesses or activists. I think you should consider protest the strict sentencing handed down by the Judge Faircloth, in Georgia, where Ft. Benning's infamous torture and dictator training school has been for decades.

You can jail the resisters... but you can't jail the resistance!
Prisoners of Conscience

The four courageous advocates who took action against the School of the Americas [SOA] this past November are in sites of the U.S. Government.
Nancy Gwin, a peace activist from central New York, reported to Danbury Federal Prison in Connecticut. Gwin will serve 6 months in federal prison for her nonviolent action to protest the School of the Americas. Gwin said the school's closure would send a powerful message to Latin America. "To say, 'We are closing this school to make an equal relationship with you,'" she said. "It's a small step, but it says we're looking for a new future."

As Gwin reports, the fate of Michael Walli, remains unclear. Walli also participated in the action with Gwin and told Magistrate Faircloth that if he was released he would not return voluntarily to Columbus for trial this past January 25th. Faircloth issued a bench warrant for Walli's arrest and this past Tuesday, March 2nd, Federal Marshalls knocked on the door of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington D.C. to take Walli into custody. After being held in the D.C. jail for three days, Walli was released on his own recognizance by D.C. Federal Judge Facciola. He was asked to return to court on March 12th to decide whether or not he will be transferred to Georgia to appear in front of Magistrate Faircloth. Faircloth is responsible for the harsh 6 month prison sentences of the other three advocates.

Franciscan Catholic Priest, Fr. Louis Vitale, was recently transferred from a county jail in Cordele, Georgia to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. It is likely that Vitale will continue to be transferred, during his sentence, until he reaches a Federal Prison on the West Coast.

Ken Hayes, an SOA Watch National Council member, has also heard from the federal government and is scheduled to report to prison on March 16th. Hayes, 60, is a long-time peace and justice activist from Austin, Texas and a leader in the local Austin SOA Watch group.

The action of the SOA Watch 4 gives us hope and inspires us to do all we can to close the School of the Americas once and for all.
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