Human Rights activists from across the Americas converged on Georgia in November 2015, and we are so grateful to have filled the streets of Columbus and Lumpkin with our transformative energy, and to have multiplied our resistance to US empire with so many around the world through livestream and social media.
If you have video or photos of the 2015 SOAW Vigil that you would like to share please contact: Mike Barr at
. Your work will be credited and used to edit programs for use in promoting SOAWatch and next year's vigil at the US/Mexico border. Thank you.
On Sunday, November 22, SOA Watch Field Organizer María Luisa Rosal and SOA Watch Founder Father Roy Bourgeois made an important announcement about SOA Watch's move to the border in the Fall of 2016: Click here to watch the announcement (from the School of the Americas to the Border). Stay tuned for more information that will get released in January 2016!
THE SUNDAY Vigil was a beautiful act of resistance, called forth by our friends who are directly impacted by unjust systems of racism and violence. The names of the fallen, killed by graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, rang out hour upon hour, as we responded, Presente!
Let's use our collective energy from this past weekend to continue building a culture of justice and peace! Will you join us in standing up against impunity in Honduras? Our call for urgent action is an impactful way to manifest our solidarity with the people of Honduras, who are still resisting the SOA-graduate led coup of 2009.
Sunday, 11/22 at Fort Benning, Georgia
and more photos of the whole weekend on the SOA Watch Flickr
Saturday, 11/21 in Lumpkin, GA
The #ShutDownStewart team led a powerful rally and 1.7-mile march to the Stewart Detention Center on Saturday. Speakers included family members whose family was torn apart by deportation, Mary Hooks from Southerners on New Ground, Silky Shah of Detention Watch Network, Maria Luisa Rosal from SOA Watch, and #ShutStewartDown organizer Anton Flores from Alterna Community. The march was led by those whose lives are directly impacted by our country's unjust, inhumane and racist immigration policies, and more than 1,000 marchers joined in.
Eleven protesters were arrested on misdemeanor charges of Obstruction of Justice for obstructing the injustices that take place daily at Stewart Detention Center. Ranging from ages 29-81, from states across the US, they are Mary Anne Perrone, Kevin Caron, Betsy Lamb, Moe Fitzsimmons, Rebecca Kanner, Kelvin Ho, Ann Havill, Beth Harris, Rita Lucey, Beth Rosdatter, and Bill Wertheimer. (photo, below and left, by Steve Pavey).
After the movement supported them by paying $100 for each arrestee, all were released and all charges dismissed within an hour of negotiations with the Sheriff and Magistrate Judge.
Thank you to all who donated to support those who take risks by using their bodies to cross lines and fences in solidarity with our sisters and brothers.
We do not forget that while we celebrate the release of our 11 comrades, thousands of men continue to be held unjustly, in terrible conditions inside Stewart. We will not stop until we #ShutStewartDown! and not one more family is divided by our country's barbaric practices.
Friday, 11/20 in Columbus, GA (See More Photos Here)
Activists arrived from Mexico, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Panama and around the US to gather for the first workshops in the 2015 Vigil, exploring resistance to US empire. Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition presented Why We Must #ShutDownStewart to get us ready for Saturday’s march to the Stewart Detention Center, discussing the intersections of racism, militarism, and mass incarceration that are embodied at Stewart and other detention centers throughout the US.
National Religious Campaign Against Torture screened Breaking Down the Box, exposing the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the US. Two of the victims of the right-wing extremist violent attempts to overthrow the democratically-elected government discussed the Struggle Against Impunity in Venezuela. Pax Christi USA hosted a discussion led by youth organizers for the Dream Act in NJ, and SOA Watch activante Jonathan González Quiel spoke on human rights and militarism in Panama.
Two members of the jury of the International Tribunal of Conscience on Mexico on the anniversary of the disappearance of the students from the rural teacher’s school in Ayotzinapa were featured in a workshop on Mexico’s Crimes Against Humanity and the Complicity of the US. And SOA Watch LA screened Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story, shared personal remembrances and also poetry from Maria’s newly released (bilingual) book of poems, Quisiera Escribir Cosas Bellas.
We heard a report-back on the Colombian Peace Process from Witness for Peace, and from organizers in Costa Rica and Mexico about mining, militarization and the disappeared. NETWORK Lobby shared an analysis of 2015 congressional legislation, and another workshop discussed how early Christianity was co-opted and transformed into a violent, patriarchal tool of empire. SOA Watch leaders also led Peacemaker, Legal Observer, Nonviolent Direct Action and Legislative trainings, and packed the house for an exciting opening plenary that closed out the transformative evening.