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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

USA: 100 years of prison time - for NON VIOLENT PROTEST

On Sunday, November 20, 2011, SOA Watch activist Theresa Cusimano climbed over the barbed wired fence at the main gates of Fort Benning, Georgia - home to the School of the Americas. Theresa was arrested by military police and is facing up to six months in federal prison.

Theresa will face a federal trial next year – her second trial for such actions at Fort Benning. Theresa also carried her protest onto Fort Benning in 2008, an act for which she served two months in federal prison. Protests against the SOA/WHINSEC began 21 years ago; since then, over 300 people have been sentenced and have collectively served over 100 years of prison time for nonviolent civil disobedience.

Before carrying her protest onto the base yesterday, Theresa addressed thousands of human rights activists at the gates of Fort Benning for the November Vigil. Here are excerpts from her speech from the stage:

"[…] I am choosing civil disobedience because of the lawless acts promoted by the School of the Americas and carried out all over the world. These human rights crimes are unfitting of a so-called "World Super Power." I've never been big on shame, even though I'm Catholic. But if that's what it takes to get Congress to close WHINSEC (SOA) and all other for-profit consulting gigs our government is financing at our expense... I'm not above invoking shame. Like the hundreds of thousands of protestors who've come before me. I'm in good company. […]

Our message is not being heard in Congress, our lawmakers have been purchased by other priorities, so youth and students in the movement ask for you to help us in the Court of Public Opinion and go online to the Daily Show's Facebook page, register in for their Forum . Request that Father Roy be invited onto the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report. Don't stop until we get Roy's voice into the media mainstream, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and the Sunday morning circuit. Don't let my civil action go to waste."

Father Roy Bourgeois has spent over four years in federal prison for peacefully crossing into Ft. Benning

Chris Takes Action to Connect the Struggles

Chris Spicer from Chicago, Illinois, crossed the police barricade at Friday's protest against the Stewart Detention Center, the largest privately owned detention center in the United States. Chris engaged in civil disobedience in solidarity with the immigrants detained within the prison walls. Many of those incarcerated came to the United States from Latin America because of the violence carried out by SOA graduates against civilian populations in their countries. Chris, who was recently released after serving a six-month sentence for crossing the line at the 2010 Vigil to Close the School of the Americas, was brought before Judge Wayne Ammons, who set the bond for this criminal trespass charge exorbitantly high at $5,000. Responding to news that Stewart Detention Center detainees were fasting to commemorate this fifth annual vigil at the gates of the Stewart facility, Chris announced that he too would be fasting, "to purify this unjust system. The SOA and inhumane immigration policies are part of the same racist system of violence and domination." Georgia Detention Watch organizer Anton Flores, from the Alterna Community, was wrongfully arrested at the close of Friday's action, after media and legal observers had left. Despite video evidence proving Anton did not trespass, the police refused to stop harassing him, and only after the evidence was presented to Judge Ammons were his charges dismissed. Chris' bond has been reduced to $1,500 at yesterday's arraignment and the SOA Watch Legal Collective posted bail for him on Monday, November 21. He is facing charges for criminal trespass.

Ssend a message of support to Chris as he prepares to put the broken immigration system on trial in state court.

chrisweloveyou  {a=t}

Jonathan and Isaac Confront Border Patrol Officers in Alabama

We were joined by many undocumented immigrants at the gates of Fort Benning this year. We stood together to challenge the unjust and racist policies of the U.S. government, to close the School of the Americas and to win justice for all. Jonathan Pérez, an undocumented youth from California was scheduled to speak on the Saturday evening panel dicussion at the Columbus Convention Center but he could not, because he is incarcerated. On November 10, Jonathan Pérez and Isaac Barrera, two undocumented immigrants from California, entered a Border Patrol office in Mobile, Alabama and told agents they were undocumented. Theirs was a strategic move organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance and to prove that away from the media spotlight and contrary to its public line on its deportation policies, the Obama administration is still intent on deporting the very people it claims not to have any interest in removing from the country, including young people with no criminal convictions, eligible for the DREAM Act.

Watch this video, released over the weekend, as Pérez confronts Border Patrol officers, and courageously announces his status after telling them how disgusted he is with Obama's deportation agenda.

"We're exercising our power and showing that we can do something about this," Pérez told Colorlines last week. "We can challenge the system, and when we do, the system falls apart and the contradictions begin to show."

2005 Thomas Merton Award

Roy Bourgeois is an American activist. He was ordained a priest in the Maryknoll order of the Roman Catholic Church and is founder of the human rights group SOA Watch or the School of the Americas Watch.[1]

Father Bourgeois was excommunicated latae sententiae for his participation in a women's ordination ceremony in August 2008.

1972-1975 Fr. Bourgeois spent five years in Bolivia aiding the poor before being arrested and deported for attempting to overthrow Bolivian dictator General Hugo Banzer.

1980 Fr. Bourgeois became an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America after four American churchwomen, Sister Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Sister Ita Ford, and Sister Dorothy Kazel, were raped and killed by a death squad consisting of soldiers from the Salvadoran National Guard.

1990 Fr. Bourgeois founded the School of the Americas Watch or (SOA Watch), an organization that seeks to close the School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, through nonviolent protest.

1998 Fr. Bourgeois testified before a Spanish judge seeking the extradition of Chile's ex-dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

2008 In August 2008, Fr. Bourgeois participated in and delivered the homily at the ordination ceremony of Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a member of Womenpriests, at a Unitarian Universalist church in Lexington, Kentucky.[4] Fr. Bourgeois received a 30 days' notice as of October 21, 2008 regarding possible excommunication for this action. He was excommunicated latae sententiae.[4]

2011 On March 18, 2011, Fr. Bourgeois was given a letter from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers notifying him that he had 15 days to recant his support for women's ordination or he would face expulsion from the order.[5] 157 Catholic priests have signed a letter that supports his priesthood and his right to conscience. It was delivered on 22 July to the Superior General Fr. Edward Dougherty.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has spent over four years in federal prison for peacefully crossing into Ft. Benning. He and over 240 peace activists have been tried and jailed for peacefully demonstrating at the gates of the WHINSEC, or School of the Assassins as it's referred to by the activists.

Thomas Merton Award

Award recipients

    1972: James P. Carroll
    1973: Dorothy Day
    1974: Dick Gregory
    1975: Joan Baez
    1976: Dom Hélder Câmara
    1977: Dick Hughes
    1978: Bishop John Harris Burt & Bishop James Malone
    1979: Helen Caldicott
    1980: William Winpisinger
    1981: The people of Poland
    1982: Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen
    1983: not awarded
    1984: Bernice Johnson Reagon
    1985: Henri Nouwen
    1986: Allan Boesak
    1987: Miguel D'Escoto
    1988: Daniel Berrigan
    1989: Comrades of El Salvador & Elizabeth Linder
    1990: Marian Wright Edelman
    1991: Howard Zinn
    1992: Molly Rush
    1993: Reverend Lucius Walker
    1994: Richard Rohr OFM
    1995: Marian Kramer
    1996: Winona LaDuke
    1997: Ron Chisom
    1998: Studs Terkel
    1999: Wendell Berry
    2000: Ronald V. Dellums
    2001: Sister Joan Chittister
    2002: Bishop Leontine T. Kelly
    2003: Voices in the Wilderness
    2004: Amy Goodman
    2005: Reverend Roy Bourgeois
    2006: Angela Davis
    2007: Cindy Sheehan
    2008: Malik Rahim
    2009: Dennis Kucinich
    2010: Noam Chomsky
    2011: Vandana Shiva

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