November 17. Columbus, GA. Late this morning over 90 anti-SOA activists were arrested at Ft. Benning for crossing the line on to the US Army base hosting the School of the Americas. Charged with trespass, the activists face up to six months in prison and a $5000 fine for this nonviolent alleged crime.
In an unexpected development, all captives are being held in custody overnight until arraignment Monday morning.
Currently two Syracusans, Rae Kramer and Mike Pasquale, are in federal prison for six months for having crossed the line last November at this annual vigil action at Benning sponsored by SOA Watch. SPC steering committee member, Laura MacDonald, returned to Syracuse in early October after having served 90 days in Georgia county jails for the same crime. These three are among 99 nationwide (including a dozen Central New Yorkers) who over the years have gone to prison for nonviolently demanding the SOAs closure.
The vigil action commemorates the massacre of six Jesuit professors, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador on November 16, 1989. A UN investigation found that 19 of the 26 Salvadoran army officers implicated in the massacre trained at the SOA. Since 1946 the SOA now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation has trained Latin American military in anti-insurgency tactics. Those soldiers use these tactics against their own people on behalf of the US corporations operating in their homelands.
Numerous Central New Yorkers were among the thousand of supporters at this rally which is surely the largest annually recurring anti-war demonstration in the US. For more information, check www.soaw.org or contact the CNY SOA Abolitionists at 315-478-4571.