|Justice Denied: Activists Imprisoned, SOA Remains Open|
Once again, the justice system's complicity with the abuses taught at the School of the Americas was exposed today at the trial of anti-militarism activists Nancy Smith and Christopher Spicer. Nancy, from New York, changed her plea to no contest and was immediately sentenced to 6 months in prison by Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles. In the SOA Watch tradition of using the courts to put a spotlight on the SOA/WHINSEC, Nancy affirmed that she "felt a strong moral imperative" to carry out her nonviolent act of civil disobedience "on behalf of those who have suffered so terribly".
Christopher, from Illinois, plead not guilty but was declared guilty by Judge Hyles and sentenced likewise to 6 months. In his closing statement before sentencing, Christopher addressed the ongoing human rights abuses in Latin America carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas, and his need to confront the "paralysis of fear" to act that has gripped the country in recent times.
In November, Franciscan priest Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and David Omondi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Community both pled no contest and were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail.
The decision by Judge Hyles to impose the maximum penalty for a non-violent act of civil disobedience exposes the political nature of the trials and the justice system, in lock-step with military principles of full obedience despite moral outrage.
However, we take the energy of Nancy, Christopher, David, and Louis along with the thousands of our brothers and sisters who have been massacred, raped, tortured and disappeared in their fight for a culture of peace with justice, and we will continue to move forward. We hope to see you all in Washington, DC, in April to bring the fight to close the SOA and end US militarism in Latin America to the doorsteps of our policy makers.
The struggle is long, but we will continue!
To send letters or cards of support to the 2010 "SOA 4," click here.
5525 Illinois Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20011