Alice Gerard Print
Biography:

Alice E. Gerard is a freelance writer/photographer. She likes to draw, do needle crafts, sing with choral groups, and take long walks. She lives with her parents and with two cats, Smokey and Zoe, in Grand Island, New York.

In the past, she has traveled to the Texas-Mexico border as a part of "border witness" and to Guatemala to attend language school.

On Monday, January 29 - 2007, Alice Gerard was sentenced to 6 months in federal prison. She reported to the Danbury Federal Correctional Center on March 21, 2007 and was released on September 19, 2007

Alice Gerard's Statement:

Judge Faircloth, prosecuting attorneys, and friends. As a journalist, I greatly value my first amendment rights. I cherish my rights to write about any topic, no matter how controversial, and to have my work published, without fear of censorship. I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself in that way.

I also cherish my rights to freedom of religion and to petition my government for redress of grievances. Until fairly recently, I had little doubt that these rights were secure. I never imagined that I could lose them. Today, however, I fear that these rights, basic to any country that calls itself a democracy, are rapidly disappearing. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to offer my criticisms, comments, and petitions to a government that once was open and accessible. Every day, more fences and barricades are erected, to limit free speech. All of this is being done in the name of security.

I don't agree. I do not want security without freedom.

I came to petition the government for a redress of grievances. I was welcomed by fences, barbed wire, no trespassing signs, and hordes of police. I was welcomed by the sight of no governmental official willing to listen to my concerns or to accept my petitions. I felt lost in a security state that I could not understand. Surely, this was not the democracy that my teachers had encouraged me to believe in.

And so, despite the barriers, I chose to bring my grievances onto the grounds of Fort Benning. I stepped through a hole in the fence. I do not deny having stepped through that hole nor do I deny putting my feet on the red clay of Fort Benning, even though I had already been banned and barred forever from that space.

I expressed my constitutional right to freedom of religion by bringing on to the grounds of Fort Benning a cross, with the name of a Salvadoran gentleman, who had been killed. He was 105 years old. After having lived that long, he died a painful, violent death, instead of a quiet death, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

I planted his cross in the ground of Fort Benning, as a visible reminder that he existed and to say that the loss of his life made a difference. I tried to express my first amendment right to freedom of religion by praying for forgiveness on behalf of my government and myself. I found that right was restricted by a fence.

Although I brought only one cross, I carried many more of the dead, disappeared, and tortured in my heart. Among them was Sister Dianna Ortiz, who had been brutally tortured by Guatemalan military in 1989. She had been my friend and classmate in a Guatemalan language school just two years earlier. More recently, in May 2006, members of a Colombian elite judicial anti-drug squad were killed by U.S.-trained military, commanded by an SOA graduate. Those police, trained by our own Drug Enforcement Agency, were effective, and now they are dead. It was because of all of those people mentioned and thousands of others that I felt it necessary to come to Fort Benning to exercise the freedoms that I believed that I possessed.

I went to the grounds of Fort Benning to ask for restorative justice that calls for participants in an act of injustice to acknowledge responsibility, apologize to victims, and assure the provision of restitution to victims. I was asking for WHINSEC/SOA to be closed and for an independent truth and reconciliation commission to be established to investigate the instruction offered at the school. I came to that space, looking for the truth and asking that the government, like its citizens, be held accountable for its actions.

To close, I would like to share with you the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated for speaking out for the poor of El Salvador and for asserting the law of God. I will read these words in both Spanish and English:

Hermanos, vienen de nuestra gente
estan matando a sus propios hermanos.
cualquier orden a matar
ha de ser conforme a la ley de Dios,
el cual dice, no maten!
Nadie tiene que obedecer ninguna orden que sea inmoral.
Es tiemp que obedezca a su conciencia y no las ordenes inmorales.
La Iglesia no pueda mantenerse en silencio antes dicha
abominacion...

En el nombre de Dios,
en el nombre del pueblo sufrido
cuyos gritos llegan cada dia mas fuerte al cielo,
les pido,
les ruego,
les ordeno.
para la represion!

?Brothers, you come from your own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, 'Thou shalt not kill.' No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination... in the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression."

Alice E. Gerard
January 29, 2007