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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience 2007 - SOA 11 Stephen Schweitzer, SOA 11
Stephen Schweitzer, SOA 11 PDF Print E-mail
First of all I have a small apology for causing extra resources to be devoted to my case. I recognize that this is creating an extra burden on not only the people involved with this trial, but it's also creating extra financial burden on the taxpayers of this great nation.

But having just typed that I ask the court to please understand that years of my own in-action and silence is killing me.
'Merica is killing me.
'Merica is making me suicidal.
Part of me says, "Just leave and don't worry about it."
The other parts say,
"Stay and stand up for what is right"
And what is right?
I believe we all the right to live in peace.
I understand that there are times when it is necessary to fight.
We might always need peace-keepers. For fully peaceful purposes.
But when a government is openly talking about pre-emptive war against sovereign nations and teaching torture and considering that certain forms of torture are okay....
Then I get a scary sense that this country is moving towards a very dark direction.


Walking with Grandfather: The Wisdom of Lakota Elders
Joseph M. Marshall III


"...The plains tribes of North America took or developed a different slant on war and warfare and the warrior. Over time, they made it an arena within and which a man or any combatant could prove himself. Killing was not the objective. Proving and demonstrating one's courage and skill was the primary objective. People were still injured and killed, so there was always the threat of that,..."

"... And the objective was not to kill off everybody else, the objective was very simple. ..."

"...The objective of every man who faced the moment of combat was to touch a live enemy and get away and live to tell about it. ..."

"...the objective was two-fold: one, it was for you to demonstrate your bravery and courage in the most daunting circumstance. And the other, was to defeat the spirit of the enemy. If you defeated his spirit, it was better than taking his life. Because once you defeated his spirit you owned him. So that the next time he faced you and you faced him in combat, he remembers that incident in which you bested him. ..."

I know we are a nation founded on war. We've lived with war for just about every generation since our descendants arrived here from elsewhere. There's no need for me to go into the history of war. Iraq is proof enough.

So it's really no surprise to me that while driving here from New York state that I would pass countless memorials to war.
Highways dedicated to the memory of war, parks and 'scenic' areas designed to remember or glorify war.
Battlefield monuments, The Hall of Valor Museum. The soon to be built Infantry museum - right here in Columbus, Georgia. This is not to say that our brave men and women do not deserve the respect of memorials. But coming from a peace perspective it's a bit overwhelming to see these reminders...
and no Peace Parks.
We are constantly reminded of war and warring.

I have a DVD for the judge. It's a documentary I made in 2005 during the SOAW festival. This is a small gift for you. Perhaps you have never attended the full festival. The DVD will give you a good sense of the diversity and magnitude of this important peace and social justice movement.
In 2005 I became aware of this movement.
I was not compelled to act then.
Obviously that feeling has changed.
On the DVD there's a short interview with a local woman who drives for the 'Patriot Cab Co.' She mentions that Columbus has always been 'red, white and blue' especially after the textile mills closed.

Military economies are taking over this nation.

This is having a profound effect on our collective conscience.

Consider these two images I recorded in Binghamton NY.

(above)The All Wars Memorial.

(left, part of the All Wars Memorial)The Blank Slate.

And yes...
Let us be blessed that we have brave men and women who have and will answer the call of battle when called upon. I have the utmost respect for these brave men and women. My step-father survived Korea.
At 21 he went there as a Marine and returned home in a wheelchair. But eventually beat the wheelchair because he was young and strong.
And he won a few medals. Including a steel plate in his head, a steel pin in his hip, his left knee - his left ankle. And his left eye was replaced by a glass replica. But in later years he wore a patch.

And still how does this tie into my act of civil disobedience?
And yes.
According to the strict interpretation of LAW, I have been accused of trespassing.
But I believe the court knows that this act of civil disobedience is much more than a simple trespassing case.
I respect the fact that you have heard more than dozens of stories - so there is no need for me to really speak about the SOA/WHINSEC in terms of actualities or facts.

For me the SOA/WHINSEC has become a symbol of runaway militarism. And sure... I could have committed an act of civil disobedience in any one of the thousands of military bases throughout the U.S. and the World, but I decided to act here because of the strong support and the history of community that has been built here - a non-violent, civil disobedient community.

A community that stands and speaks loudly against torture and the teaching of torture.
And our military has said they changed all that, but how do you un-learn violence, un-learn torture while still teaching and exporting torture or threatening yet another sovereign nation.

There's something in our Constitution about this but I'm not allowed to speak about that. That's fine, I guess. I understand that there's the 'Letter of the Law' but I was also taught about the spirit of law. But I believe you to be correct your honor. Correct in your past opinions and verdicts. And this one from 2003:
"I don't have the prerogative you have of ascribing a greater value to what you perceive as a higher law than the law of the United States. I don't have that prerogative."


And now here comes my tie-in - thank you for your patience.
For each year that we allow our military to control our government, it is one more year of misery.
Not only for those U.S. soldiers who have been killed or maimed through war - not only for the misery of their surviving friends and families, but for literally thousands of innocent civilians across this amazing planet.

Here is why I'm disturbed and here is why I can not be silent:
#4 - referring to the loud speaker announcement
"... The PROPER forum for such activities is PROVIDED, and available, in the civilian community."
I am not a lawyer, but wow, that's teetering on stripping away our First Amendment Rights.
Where is this proper place?
Should I be thankful that it was PROVIDED for me?
Or should I be beyond insulted and mortified that MY government 'of the people' is squelching our freedom to peacefully assemble?
I thought we the people were in charge - apparently not. And this I find quite disturbing.
Protest-zone laws have been passed in New York City and Washington D.C.
"You can protest here, but not there."
Can you imagine that scenario at the Boston Tea Party?

But this movement... here with the SOAW is speaking up - non-violent.
Speaking for myself this means that we will stand strong in the face of authority.
Stand for truth.
And truth telling.
And we will and should never be silent as our military runs roughshod over the world and our Constitution.
And yes, your honor, this is not the PROPER forum for me to challenge runaway militarism.
But frankly I'm at a loss as to how to proceed.
I have some very enlightened friends back in Binghamton, New York.
They tell me I don't have a case.
I don't have a case.
Their answer is that we have to get the media on our side - to start telling the story of truth.
Well... our so called 'free-press' is run by corporations who profit from war mongering.
So I ask you rhetorically your honor...
What am I supposed to do?

I'm almost done... thank you again for this opportunity.


I have a personal story about torture and after that perhaps I can speak a bit about my volunteer work in Binghamton and my work with Gang Prevention and my dedication to keep those young men and women out of prison.

After I was an infant but before I reached puberty my father would beat me.
It was his way to enforce authority.
I'm not sure where he learned this behavior - perhaps that doesn't matter.
I understand that there are some who believe torture or beating others into submission is as natural as raising children.
I think that by being the recipient of torture was not enough the only reason for me to commit this act of civil disobedience - but I'm not sure.
My father was my torturer.
Physically you couldn't tell.
Psychologically I am not sure.
But thankfully that torture ended in 1974.
I am glad that that torture ended.

Here in our great country torture is still being taught and talked about.
There has not been time for reflection or healing.

I was still oblivious to the direction of our Great Nation during our time in Vietnam.
We lost a great neighbor's son that same year - 1974.
The same year my torture ended.
So for me torture and maiming and warfare seem to go hand in hand.

I understand the legal reasons as to why you denied me my defense.
It was a stretch to think otherwise.
But I'm at a loss as to how to stop war and torture and to start the healing.
And since this has still not ended I feel that we are still making 'broken people'.
Due to war and torture.

Imagine you lived with a torturer.
And your family and close friends never knew it because you were voiceless.
Well... then it goes on until the torturer either leaves or dies.

In my near future I have both a blessing and an aberration ahead of me.
My blessed oldest sister is turning 50 next week.
We are planning a surprise birthday party for her.

I'm not sure how to feel about this.
The birthday party that is.
My father will be there.
I haven't spoken to him in years.
"Do I have forgiveness for him?"
"Does he even seek forgiveness?"
I have no idea.
But I wouldn't even be able to raise these questions if he were still my torturer.
If he still was my torturer there would be no hint of remorse on his part.
He would continue to do what he thought was right.
So this is all very interesting, no?

You may say this has no bearing on my behavior at the gates of Ft. Benning.
But in reality it is all connected.
As long as there is still torture
And the teaching of torture
And the teaching of warfare
and promoting warfare
and war happening today
there will be no healing
for any of us
especially those who have lost loved ones in conflict
or who are victims of torture.

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