SOA Watch invites those who attended this year's Vigil in Columbus, Georgia to reconnect with the group they came with and reflect on their personal experiences together. To help you facilitate this process with your group, the SOA Watch
national office has prepared some thoughts and questions to consider
during your gathering.
This time of year, as our lives become busier, it's easy to put things like this off until after the new year
begins. However, the fresher the experience, the more
fruitful your reflection together can be! So please consider regrouping
for an afternoon or evening to meditate on your
experiences at the Vigil soon.
The SOA Watch staff
Photo courtesy of Sarah Hampton
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 December 2010 19:56
Not guilty and Not Compliant
Written by Tami Ramirez
On Saturday, November 21st, 2010 I was arrested by the Columbus Police at the School Of Americas Protest in Fort Benning, Georgia. After 30 hours of incarceration and psychological harassment from unprofessional "deputies", I was the only one found not guilty out of 25 other innocent people. I was released from Muscogee County Jail on Sunday, November 22nd around 11:00pm.
Even if I was the only one found not guilty from the charges we faced in court, the deed is done and I am glad it happened because now I have this newfound anger that feeds my will to fight and defend every right that is denied to my people. Even if it is just by making students at Beloit College realize how insensitive it is of them to leave a filthy mess behind the common areas so that the Latina/Mexican ladies clean it up for them; or fighting for a comprehensive immigration reform; or representing the underrepresented in the government. Either way, I will continue this fight and let my story be heard.
While thousands were gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, simultaneous actions to close the SOA, to resist militarization and to create a culture of justice and peace took place throughout the Americas. SOA Watch continues to build and strengthen our relationships with social justice movements throughout the Hemisphere. The video message below from the SOA Watch Latin America office was screened during the opening plenary in the Columbus Convention Center.
Pushing the Boundaries at Fort Benning: Is This “The End of the Road for the SOA?” By Clare Hanrahan
It all comes down to how you react Now you're face to face, seeing it all Dispersal warnings, they're making the call They got buses to pack, with people like you When they did that in the 50's the movement grew --Ryan Harvey, lyrics from “See it Through”
Federal, City and State authorities were busy in Columbus, Ga., on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. Arrests of people from 17 to 90 years old included stilt walkers and puppetistas, four credentialed press, local barber Curtis Thornton, a dozen participants in a planned road blockade, priests, veterans and students, along with many others attempting simply to make it back to their cars outside the “permitted protest area” following the 2010 vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia.
At least five undercover police infiltrated the action.
On Saturday after the rally some members of the School of the Americas Watch community took action within the city of Columbus. They chose to take their message to Columbus instead of the military base. They chose a different space but the reasons for the action were the same: to close the SOA and bring justice to its victims. The police had a strong reaction to what they felt was the abuse of the permit. As people were attempting to leave the vigil site the police responded by arresting more than seventeen individuals who were doing nothing more than leaving the space – all together 26 folks were arrested.
I have attended the vigil for six years and never have I seen anything like what happened on Saturday. The police were directing people to leave and then accusing them of refusing to disperse and placing cuffs on them. They picked up journalists, high schoolers, and even a member of their own Columbus community who simply stepped out of a barber shop near the road.
Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center and Bring Home Pedro
Written by Becca Polk
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:37
On Friday, Novemeber 19th, over 100 people gathered at Lumpkin Town Square, in Georgia, to connect the messages of militarization, immigration and detention as being part of a system of injustices surrounding US foreign and domestic polices. The messaging was loud and clear, "Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center and Bring Home Pedro."
The major focus was around the separation of families as a direct result of the private business, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), making a profit off detaining immigrants without official status in the US. One case in particular was highlighted, of Pedro Guzman, who has been detainted for close to a year, leaving his wife Emily and four year old son Logan, devastated. But Emily commented later that "the rally gave us hope and restored some faith in human kind." For more information on the Guzman's story please visit www.logansdad.org.
In tradition with SOA Watch movement, 8 people, including Pedro's mother in-law, put their bodies on the line and crossed over the physical barrier of peaceful protests to the injustices surrounding the business of detention. "Crossing the arbitrary line drawn by CCA today was a necessary step to call our government to its highest ideals," remarks Anton Flores, one of the main organizers of this Stewart Detention Vigil and Rally. For the full press release, please visit http://www.georgiadetentionwatch.com/press-releases/.
This emotional moment of witnessing civil disobedience of those willing to sacrifice and denounce the injustices surrounding the Stewart Detention Center, was accompanied by "We Will Not Be Moved" playing in the background. It was a symbolic reminder of why we engage in civil disobedience, giving us strength from those that came before us, knowing that we are all connected and trapped within this system, and if one of us is locked up, we all are.
Following the procession and vigil at the Stewart Detention Center, Emily Guzman got word that Pedro will have his bond hearing next week, with the hopes that the Board of Immigration Appeals will have made a favorable decision about Pedro's case. Our thoughts and prayers stay with the Guzmans, along with others trapped in this unjust immigration system.