Activists Face 6-month Federal Prison Sentence Print
Friday, 07 January 2011 19:57
Activists Nancy Smith from New York and Chris Spicer from Illinois will appear tomorrow, on January 5, 2011 in federal court in Columbus, Georgia to stand trial for crossing the line during the 2010 November vigil to close School of the Americas (SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). They face a 6-month federal prison sentence for their non-violent direct action, resisting U.S. war crimes including torture and other terror tactics allegedly taught at the American tax dollar funded SOA.

Smith and Spicer carried the protest against the SOA atrocities onto the Fort Benning military base and now face federal prison confinement for what School of Americas Watch calls "their courageous act of nonviolent civil disobedience."

"Nancy and Chris will use the courtroom to put the SOA itself on trial and to take a stand against the SOA, torture, militarization and oppressive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America," stated the organization today.

In November, the presiding judge, Stephen Hyles, sentenced two other human rights advocates to the maximum allowed prison sentence for the same action.

Father Louis Vitale and David Omondi crossed onto the base during the November vigil are each currently serving six months prison sentences.

SOA Watch is urging the public to simply write to the Prisoners of Conscience.

"Please write to our Prisoners of Conscience David and Father Louis and send Nancy and Chris good thoughts, strength, courage and love as they speak truth to power in the Georgia Middle District Court tomorrow.'

Former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca stated that SOA was the "biggest base for destabilization in Latin America," according to The Guardian.

In 1984, SOA reopened at Fort Benning, Georgia. For 59 years, SOA's training mission has been two-pronged according to SOA Watch:

1) Protect multinational corporations' interests, and

2) Maintain economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the US and their cohorts in Latin America.

On January 17, 2001, SOA's official name changed to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) but the new name did not fool those aware of the facility. They still call it "SOA," School of Assassins.

SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.

This article was written by Deborah Dupre, and appeared on the on January 4th, 2011.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 January 2011 20:25