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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Brian DeRouen Trial Statement
Brian DeRouen Trial Statement PDF Print E-mail
Your Honor,
The missal reading for today Wednesday January 26th comes from 2 Timothy 1:8. It reads ?Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.?

I stand before you having been found guilty. In your opinion your guilty verdict is an example of justice being done. While many both inside and out of this courtroom would disagree with you on this matter, I do not. You have made it clear during the past two days that the law of the land and the idea of justice requires you to find me guilty. I respect your decision in this matter but I do not believe that the justice you have brought to this court is today?s highest achievement. Similarly, I do not believe that the laws of this nation nor the authority with which you have been invested are of the highest order. But I thank you your honor for I truly believe that through the two of us a higher power and a higher justice are at work.

I have intentionally engaged in civil disobedience as I recognized that my faith, my hope for justice, and my genuine desire for the peace and safety of all the people of the Americas, North, Central, and South has required me to do so. Today you have also acted according to your conscience, employing your intellect and knowledge of the law, to reach a just verdict and in a few moments will do the same in regards to your sentence.

I am thankful that you and I have been brought to this occasion, as it is one that I have encountered many times in my studies of theology and non-violence. I in no way hold myself in the same company as the prophets and heroes that I am about to mention. I also am not suggesting that you your honor are personally similar to any person that I am about to mention. I am merely recognizing similarities between their circumstances and the one that you and I are currently sharing.

In Mark 3:1-6 Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath; a day during which it was illegal according to the religious law of the day to work. Fully aware of this, Jesus told a man with a shriveled hand to stand up, and in front of the Pharisees and all others present, broke the law by healing the man. As a result those charged with the protection of the law were required to hold Jesus accountable.

In 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement came to Birmingham, Alabama. They gathered there to organize and peacefully protest against segregation. At that time Bull Connor was the police commissioner in Birmingham. As commissioner of police, Connor felt that he was obligated by his position to stop the marchers and defend segregation. When King and others marched, Connor first had the leaders arrested, next adults were arrested, and finally Connor filled the jails with children, an action he saw as his duty. The Civil Rights demonstrators had broken the law and he had no choice but to enforce the law and for the common good discourage others from lawlessness.

In 1983 Father Roy Bourgeois intentionally broke the law by dressing as a high-ranking military officer and engaged in civil disobedience. He climbed a tree next to the barracks where Salvadoran soldiers were housed on Ft. Benning and played archbishop Romero?s words spoken to his own people, ordering them to stop the violent repression of their Salvadoran brothers and sisters. For this action Father Roy was sentenced by this federal court in Columbus, GA to a year and a half in prison. I realize that you were not the judge in his case but I presume that like you, that judge believed that it was his responsibility to protect the law and dissuade others who might follow in Father Roy?s footsteps by sentencing him to prison. Myself and the other defendants on trial this week are a clear indication that similar to you, that judge was wrong. Our presence in this court proves that voices for justice cannot be silenced by the threat or reality of a prison sentence.

Some do not see the effort to close the SOA/WHINSEC in the same light as the civil rights movement. This is because for many Americans the crimes perpetrated by graduates of this school are invisible. Most Americans have not been tortured as were Sister Diana Ortiz, Father Roy Bourgeois, and untold thousands of our Latin American sisters and brothers. Most Americans have not walked the streets of El Mozote, El Salvador or heard Rufina Maya?s description of the massacre, which occurred there. The U.S. government however, is not ignorant of these atrocities, they have simply chosen to deny them at worst, or ignore them at best in order to maintain that SOA/WHISEC has a right to exist.

The hundreds of thousands of deaths resulting from the repression of the poor in South and Central America is in every way a holocaust, which every American must be made aware of in the interests of true homeland security. People must be made aware of the fact that right down the road soldiers are being trained to fan the flames of injustice and oppression.

I am grateful for the events of the past few days in this courtroom for they have made it that much harder for the people of this nation to remain ignorant of this disgraceful school and it atrocities. I believe that we are now one step closer to the end of this shameful institution and I thank you hour honor for the progress you have helped our movement to make.

Peace and God Bless
 

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