89 Year Old Nun and 13 Others to be Released from Federal Prison on 1/14 after Serving 6 Month Sentences for Demonstrating Against the School of the Americas Print
A senior NASA research scientist, a former corporate executive and an 89 year old Catholic nun are among 26 sentenced for their part in a nonviolent demonstration in November, 2000 calling for the closure of the renamed U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) – located at Ft. Benning, GA. Most of the group received the maximum sentence of six months. Fourteen of these will be released from federal prisons around the country early next week.

“I was speaking out against something I think is very wrong,” said 19-year old Rachel Hayward, the youngest member of the group. Hayward, a college student from Michigan, will be released from Pekin Federal prison, outside of Peoria, IL at 10:00 am on 1/14. Others to be released include 89 year-old Dorothy Hennessey OSF and her younger sister Gwen Hennessey OSF, age 68. Both are Franciscan nuns.

Despite recent cosmetic reforms by the Pentagon, which changed the name of the school to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the grassroots and congressional efforts to close the school continue. Federal charges are pending against thirteen arrested at the annual nonviolent demonstration held at the gates of Ft. Benning on the anniversary of the massacre of a 14 year old, her mother and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador by soldiers trained at the school.

A bipartisan bill, HR 1810, before the House of Representatives would close the doors of the SOA and investigate the school’s history and training of many of the hemisphere’s most notorious human rights violators.