<b>Margaret Bryant Gainer</b> Print
Margaret was arrested on Sunday, November 19, 2006 for crossing the line at Ft. Benning, Georgia to protest the continued presence of the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. Margaret chose not to post bail and currently resides in Muscogee County Jail. She is scheduled to appear for trial on a charge of trespassing on a military installation on January 29, 2007.

Empire Falls: Notes from my journal, Muskogee County Jail

First Entry:

Taken to Harris Jail yesterday after arrest at Ft. Benning. Stayed in small cell ? night alone. Began making origami peace cranes out of soap paper (green, gold, pink). Also made cranes from sandwich wrappers. The guard wouldn?t give me any writing material or anything to read so the crane making was a nice meditation.

The following day upon arrival to Muskogee Jail after being shuffled into white wall jail room version #3, my eyes went to the writing on a window covered w/ adds to keep out the sunlight. The advertisement reads ?A New Home: $0. Watching it fill up for the holidays: Priceless?(Mastercard).

Now in cellblock 319 over 40 women here crowded 8x10 ft (approx) rooms. 3+ women per room w/ one individual usually on the floor about a foot from shared toilet. No access to outdoors, fresh air, fresh veggies, sunlight, perpetual artificial light and chronic noise. Upon tour of the cell block one of the inmates observes ?all the rooms are the same size here, yep, every single one.?

Given meat substance and cheese substance sandwich to eat; I don?t think I can be a vegan here, could possibly be a vegetarian, even after eating that sandwich! I am grateful for the food, though. I mistakenly took the wrong cup after dinner. A woman brought me mine and instructed me to put my name on it as ?they are like gold here?. Most of the women have been very welcoming and supportive. A woman tells mea joke, ?Children will be with you when you grow old and they will get you there faster too.?

First Saturday:

Between the ?lockdowns? and a ?shakedown? we try to look up. Many of the women here have been folding peace cranes; the television is decorated with them. Some of the sandwich bag cranes were confiscated during one of the ?downs??crane conspiracy? Other things confiscated: warm clothing & bedding, space! Information; how long you may be in here and when your court date is, grandmothers, mother, sister! Unable to meet as visitation is 18 years and older only!

Not much in the way of fa la la la la Christmas cheer but celebration does occur.

Second Sunday at Muskogee Jail:

Two weeks since over 20,000 came together to vigil and close the School of Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and I joined w/ 15 others arresting the SOA/WHINSEC on the grounds they teach torture and according to international law including the Geneva Conventions, this is illegal.

Connecting the dots:

The torture of prisoners by U.S. personnel at Abu Grahib, Iraq. The torture & killing inflicted on high profile church people such as Bishop Romero and the thousands of others whose crosses we carry. The torture of the mountain people of West Virginia at the hands of big coal, big timber and mountain top removal; to Jesus Christ being stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross.

We as a people condemn torture and killing in North, Central and South America, and a very good place for the new Congress to start to rebuild the reputation of the US will be to put our repenting into action by closing the SOA/WHINSEC and repealing the Military Commissions Act.

Third Saturday in Muskogee:

Yesterday we celebrated 3 birthdays, the release of two inmates, one a 22 year old pregnant woman here for parole violation, the other a mother of three. My roommate is relieved to find out today she will be able to see a doctor in the future outside of Muscogee jail clinic to treat her cervical cancer. We have three women in our cell block w. cancer and others being tested for cancer. My roommate is joyfully cleaning, puts orange peels in the sink which scent the room when we wash out hands. I?m swallowing anger that something that should be taken for granted like health care should be so difficult; that this jail exists at all.

There are two women I know of here on terrorist charges. One has no prior convictions and went to court being charged with threatening her partner physically and is now charged with terrorism, ?was it terrorism or communism, I don?t remember.? The other has similar charges.

One woman climbs tour window trying to catch a glimpse of her daughter. It?s a long strip window that if standing on a bunk on tip toe she can see out of. Unable to see her daughter, tears begin to fall. She speaks out loud, ?I?m still here, I?m still here.? For over a year she?s been here, with no idea of a court date or when she will be able to leave.


A preacher?s voice echoes through the cell block singing about ?a chosen people, holy generation, chosen nation?? We?ll just call this place Empire Falls where there is real health care, gone are the torture training banks of greed and corruption, beautiful life sustaining waters and green. Don?t mess with that line or you might get arrested.

Population doin? fine,Peace and Solidarity,

Margaret Bryant-Gainer