Speaking Truth to Power David Omondi and Father Louis Vitale Sentenced to Six Months in Federal Prison -- Incarcerated in Georgia Jail
Four human rights activists were in court on Tuesday, November 23 after being arrested and charged with federal trespassing at Ft. Benning, Georgia on November 20 and 21. During their arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles, Nancy Smith and Christopher Spicer pled not guilty. Their trial is set for January 5. Franciscan priest Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and David Omondi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Community pled no contest and put the SOA on trial through their statements in court. Fr. Louis and David were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail. While nonviolent resisters are being sent to prison, those responsible for the use of torture manuals at the SOA have never even been charged for their crimes. Father Louis and David are presently in a Georgia county jail.
Write to the prisoners: Because they may be transferred at any time, cards and letters to David may be sent to his community for forwarding: David Omondi, c/o The Los Angeles Catholic Worker, 632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. Louis' mail may be sent to the Nuclear Resister for forwarding at P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733.
On Saturday, November 20, twenty-two others were arrested on city and state charges, including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and parading without a permit. Two were charged but not taken into custody. Some were blockading the highway leading into Fort Benning with a sign that read, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA". Many of those arrested were not intending to risk arrest but were swept up as they walked back to their cars after they left the permitted protest following the vigil on Saturday. These included journalists and a Columbus, Georgia resident who came out of a barber shop to take a photo of the protest. The SOA Watch Legal Collective is collecting testimony and photos of the indiscriminate arrests that took place on Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned!
On Sunday, November 21, Columbus Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski found 21 of the 24 who were arrested by the city guilty on all charges. Two were convicted in a state court the next day. All were released from jail by Monday, with fines and bonds as high as $4,152.50. The SOA Watch community stepped up in a big way, supporters maxed out their credit cards at ATMs to ensure that no one had to stay another day in the Muscogee County Jail. Those who were arrested still have to answer state charges, and expect to be arraigned in January.
For more information about the Ft. Benning protest, visit www.SOAW.org.
On Sunday the Judge found 23 of the 24 who were arrested by
the city guilty on all charges including unlawful assembly, failure to
disperse, and parading without a permit. The total of bonds and fines exceed $75,000 (which does not include appeals). A full legal update will be posted soon from our legal collective,
including on the four individuals who courageously crossed the line onto the
base to protest the SOA and face federal charges.
We have seen extraordinary solidarity in our movement in
raising the money needed through loans and donations to release everyone
arrested. People were trickling out of the jail until 4am this is morning. We have
been able to raise close to $30,000 in an extremely short amount of time. This
is unprecedented for SOAW. We are so grateful for both the people present here in
Fort Benning, and our network across the Americas where donations and loans
have been pouring in to ensure the
speediest release for the arrestees.
We encourage you to help spread the word to ensure the
people who put themselves on the line are taken care of by our community. Please
donate here. We still desperately need to pay back our loans and raise
additional money that will be needed for the state charges and court fees.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 05:26
Written by Hendrik Voss
Sunday, 21 November 2010 15:13
URGENT! We urgently need money to bond people out of jail.
As a community of resistance, we need to take care of our prisoners. The conditions in Muscogee County jail are deplorable and we need funds to pay the bond money, which has been set as high as $5,500. Several people engaged in nonviolent direct action and blocked the road to the Highway entrance to Fort Benning, others were arrested by the Columbus police as they were leaving the vigil area on the sidewalk. Several journalists and bystanders were swept up in the arrests as well.
Thousands Converge at the gates of Fort Benning for 20th Anniversary of November Vigil to Close the SOA
Nonviolent civil disobedience action followed by indiscriminate arrests
and targeting of journalists. Among those arrested by Columbus police
were three journalists, including unrelated bystanders.
Thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, veterans,
faith-based communities, union workers, students, musicians and others
from across the Americas are gathered today at the gates of the U.S.
military base Fort Benning to call for the closure of the School of the
Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Following the SOA Watch rally, human rights activists brought their
nonviolent witness to close the SOA into the street leading onto the
military base. The activists briefly shut down the road with a large
sign that said, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA." Their
action is part of a longstanding tradition of creative civil
disobedience to call attention to the atrocities committed by graduates
of the School of the Americas. 10-12 people were arrested, and others
charged, including the 90-year old Jesuit priest Bill Brennan, and
ordained Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska.
Two human rights activists crossed onto Fort Benning through the highway
entrance. They have been charged with federal trespass and face up to
six months in federal prison and a fine up to $5,000.
When the rally participants tried to leave the vigil area, the police
blocked off all exit points. After a few minutes, the police allowed
people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately
arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in
civil disobedience. Among those arrested were journalists, who
were filming the police misconduct and bystanders. All arrestees are
currently being held in the Muscogee County Jail for up to a $5,500
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 21:23
Please Send Footage of Arrests
Written by Hendrik Voss
The SOAW 26 is being charged with various crimes that they did not commit, and we are looking for footage and pictures of the arrests that will be used as legal evidence.
We want this information as quickly as possible, by 3pm today, but your information will be useful whenever it is sent.
Please email photos to
If videos can be uploaded to youTube and the links sent to the above email address, that is best, but please don't hesitate to contact us immediately about the footage that you do have at 317-966-2281.