CNY SOA Abolitionists Head to Ft. Benning
in November

by Ed Kinane

The Central New York SOA Abolitionists have long been an active grassroots force in the struggle to close the US Army’s notorious School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The struggle has educated hundreds of thousands of US citizens about the US’ deadly policies toward the people of Latin America.

The struggle forced the Pentagon to change the SOA’s name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC). Such camouflaging bought the SOA more time; Congressional supporters could say, “It’s a new school; we have to give it a chance.” But it’s clear any changes are cosmetic: indeed, some of its recent students are known human rights abusers.

Since its founding in the mid-nineties, our CNY SOA Abolitionists have always worked with the national SOA Watch organization. Locally, we work closely with the Peace Council. A couple of years ago the Abolitionists joined with other local Latin American solidarity groups to form CLAC, our revived local Caribbean Latin American Coalition.

CLAC and the Abolitionists regularly meet the second Sunday of the month from 4 to 7 pm at the Brady Faith Center, 404 South Ave. (across from the Southwest Community Center). We’re always pleased to have new folks check us out...and join us for the potluck dinner which is always a part of our meetings. Bring a dish to share.

At our September 12 meeting, among other things, we’ll hear a report from CLAC members Rae Kramer and Julienne Oldfield who, in August, are visiting our Sister Community, Cajibío, in Colombia. Colombia is the country that, after Israel and Egypt, receives the most US military aid. Colombia has had the most soldiers and officers trained at the SOA; it’s no coincidence that over the years its military has had the worst human rights record of any country south of the Rio Grande.

Each year many Abolitionists attend the annual November SOA Watch Vigil Action at Ft. Benning. Some of us have “crossed the line” there onto the base and have served federal prison terms of three or six months for trespass, a misdemeanor. But most of us go to take part in the remarkable weekend without risking arrest. On Friday and Saturday we hear exceptional speakers and musicians and take part in workshops. On Sunday with many thousands of others we solemnly commemorate the tens of thousands of Latin American victims of the graduates of the SOA.

This year’s Vigil Action will be from November 19 to the 21st, the weekend before Thanksgiving. You can download an organizing packet from the SOA Watch website, <>. It includes maps, places to stay, media tips and organizing tips. A regional nonviolence training is scheduled for October 16. To link up with Central New Yorkers going to the Vigil Action (and to get details of our nonviolence training), contact Mike Pasquale, 446-2720.
To learn more, contact the national office in DC at (202) 234-3440 or email