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Home SOAW LATINA Historia del movimiento SOA Watch 4,408 Risk Arrest in Mass Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Protest of U.S. Army School of the Americas
4,408 Risk Arrest in Mass Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Protest of U.S. Army School of the Americas PDF Print E-mail
FT. BENNING, GA - Calling for the shut down of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, nearly 5,000 human rights activists risked arrest Sunday, November 21 by crossing the line onto the Ft. Benning military base in protest of the School's long bloody association with human rights atrocities and massacres throughout Latin America. The demonstration honored the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter on the 10th anniversary of
their murder in El Salvador at the hands of SOA graduates.

The line crossing was led by a solemn procession of protesters in black mourning shrouds and white "death masks" who carried full-sized coffins and tiny, white child-sized coffins to symbolize the thousands of men, women, and children killed and "disappeared" by graduates of the military training school. As the names of the victims of SOA violence were called aloud, actor Martin Sheen and long-time peace activist and Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan led a wave of protesters across the line drawn on the pavement marking the entrance to the army post. Thousands in the crowd and in line carried white wooden crosses bearing the names of SOA victims. Last year, 2,319 people crossed the line.

Sunday's action was the culmination of a weekend of protest at the Ft. Benning military camp, which drew more than 12,000 from around the country. Leading the states with the highest number of people crossing the line and risking arrest were NY with 315, OH with 303, IL and MN tied with 249, and NC with 227.

This is the 9th year that the national advocacy group SOA Watch has organized a mass demonstration in Ft. Benning. Earlier this week, SOA Watch criticized an announcement by the Army that it will change its name and rewrite its charter. These so-called "reforms" have been announced in the past and are little more than an image polishing exercise, according to SOA Watch founder and co-director Roy Bourgeois, who added that the SOA still intends to train soldiers in psychological warfare, counter-insurgency techniques, and combat skills.

"We are telling the leaders of SOA that they can change their name and move the school, but we are not going away," said Adriana Portillo-Bartow of Chicago, a Guatemalan human rights worker. "Where they go, we will go. We will not rest," she told the crowd, minutes before the procession began.

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