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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Greg Poferl's Statement in Court
Greg Poferl's Statement in Court PDF Print E-mail
As a member of the American Postal Workers Union I attended the AFL-CIO sponsored demonstration against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas in Miami just days before our vigil here in Columbus. While there I attended educational conferences, a solidarity rally and marched in a peaceful parade with my sisters and brothers in the labor movement. However, while in Miami I felt like I was no longer in America. I was intimidated and frightened by an aggressive police force that numbered well over 3,000. I was able to distance myself from the arbitrary arrests, beatings, shootings with rubber bullets and pepper gas. But, I couldn?t escape the sadness of how our country had changed and how I felt our democracy had been diminished; how such powerful government forces filled the streets to silence our voices. Guns, greed and globalization were just as evident in Miami on November 20 as they are in Latin America. The only difference is that south of our border they still use real bullets. In 2002, 213 trade unionists worldwide were killed because of their union activity. Six out of every seven were Columbian, according to longtime labor writer David Bacon.

My experience in Miami strengthened my resolve to step deeper in to the struggle of the SOA Watch. By crossing the line at Ft. Benning, I wanted to stand in solidarity for the dignity of workers and their basic human rights to organize, and to speak out without fear of violence. I wanted to give voice to those labor activists who have been the victims of those trained by the SOA/ WHISC. At our November Vigil I felt privileged to take an oath of non-violence and participate in civil disobedience in the tradition of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Gandhi and Cesar Chavez.

I am grateful to my wife, Mary Beth, our children and grandchildren who I know stand with me here today in spirit. And, I am grateful to my union and to my St. Mark?s parish in St. Paul; together they have helped me find the courage to continue in this struggle.

Lastly, I want to thank Father Roy Bourgeois who has inspired me to speak out and to give myself to those actions that are sacred, and which bring us deeper into the struggle to close the SOA/WHISC; to work for peace and justice and to be mindful of the suffering of others.

Greg Poferl

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