Do you remember the Art is Not a Crime Campaign we launched just over a few weeks ago? Well, I am very happy to say that we have GREAT news to share with you!
Today, myself, along with fellow SOA Watch Activists Dominique Diaddigo-Cash, Gail Taylor and Nico Udu-gama appeared before the Washington, DC Superior Court for our arraignment hearing. We had been arrested and detained for six hours after having put up a beautiful mural with other friends and activists - about a dozen of us total - to commemorate just some of our sisters and brothers from across Latin America who have been murdered at the hands of SOA graduates.
The pressure created by supporters like you made a huge difference!
This is truly empowering news! Over 1,200 supporters from across the United States and Canada signed a petition asking US District Attorney Ron Machen to drop the charges, which carried a maximum penalty of 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. We are especially grateful to our attorney Mark Goldstone - criminal defense and constitutional lawyer - for having represented us. Today, all of the charges against us were dropped! We challenged the system and won!
We felt supported by each and every one of you, as you never left our side. This is what solidarity looks like! This is what our movement is all about! You all continue to inspire us, and it is encouraging to see just how big the impact of solidarity can be when we continue to stand together and build a culture of peace and justice.
In response to the attempts by Washington, DC police to silence us, supporters throughout Denver, Colorado, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Los Angeles, California, Takoma Park, Maryland and UC Riverside, California, have put up more posters to continue to denounce the human rights violations that continue through the training of Latin American military and police at SOA/WHINSEC, funded through US tax dollars. Download the posters today and send us a picture when you put it up in your town!
Our fellow comrade Nico was absolutely right - "Our message is too powerful to be locked behind bars." Let's continue to spread the message through creative actions! As for me and the rest of the Washington, DC staff, as well as our vibrant community of local activists, we remain committed to putting up more art, because we know just how important it is to never forget. We know how important it is to continue taking a stand for justice and exposing the realities of US Foreign Policy in Latin America. Ultimately, we know why we must close the SOA.
Let's keep walking together. I'll see you at the gates of Ft. Benning this November!
María Luisa Rosal