SOA 26 Sentenced to Prison! Print
Today 26 people – ranging in age from 19 to 88 years – were found guilty in Federal District Court of criminal trespassing. Their sentences range from 3 years on probation to one year in federal prison, with 20 of the defendants receiving six month in federal prison. Josh Raisler Cohn, Karl Meyer and Jack Gilroy were taken immediately into custody – they are joining congressional medal of honor winner Charles Liteky, who is incarcerated for nonviolent protest actions against the SOA since July 31, 2000. The SOA 26 were charged last November when they marched among 3400 SOA opponents in a procession onto Fort Benning in Georgia. That base is home to the notorious School of the Americas (SOA), recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. " I would like to offer you this peace crane and I look forward to the day when you too are able to cross the line and interfere with the kind of horrible human rights abuses taught at the School of the Americas," stated Clare Hanrahan after she was sentenced to 6 month in prison.

Even as the 26 were being sentenced, 11 more people engaged in nonviolent civil resistance actions on the base and were arrested. Three people walked onto the base, including Lana Jacobs, wife of Steve Jacobs who was sentenced to a year in prison today. Three activists removed the white line at the entrance to Fort Benning, a line which strangles political discourse on the post. Five other protesters delivered a letter to Col. Richard Downie, newly installed director of the SOA / WHISC, "banning and barring" the school for Latin American officers from further counterinsurgency training – training at odds with a respect for human rights.

Meanwhile, only yards away from the front entrance to the base, 28-year Army veteran Jeff Moebus is in the sixth week of a projected 52-day fast and vigil, calling for closure of the SOA / WHISC.

The growing public outcry over the SOA and the atrocities perpetrated by its graduates moved Congress to act. Previous legislative initiatives gradually gained bipartisan support, forcing the Pentagon to rename the SOA in Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The intent was to disassociate the School from its murderous past. This month three Democrats and three Republicans introduced legislation in the House – HR 1810 – which would close the School and investigate the training it provides.

During its 55 year history, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers. It continues each year to train hundreds of soldiers in combat skills such as commando tactics, mine warfare, military intelligence, and psychological operations. SOA trained troops continue to return home to wage war against their own people. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred and forced into refugee camps by those trained at the SOA.

During the course of a decade, 50 SOA opponents have spent 30 years collectively in federal prisons for nonviolent acts of civil resistance to SOA violence. The SOA 26 together will serve over 12 years in prison, adding to the 30 years SOA opponents have already served in prison. Throughout the country, people today have expressed their determination to maintain pressure to close the School, by any name.

David Corcoran: Illinois. Hospital chaplain, 67, married priest, father of three adopted Korean children.

Sentence: 6 months, $1000 fine

Mary Lou Benson: Minnesota. Homemaker, 56, married, mother of four, sister of Martha, aunt of Rachel.

Sentence: 6 months

Josh Raisler Cohn: Oregon. Social and environmental justice activist, 24.

Sentence: 6 months, $1000 fine- in custody

Russell De Young: Virginia. NASA senior research scientist, 54, married, father of two.

Sentence: 6 months, $1000 fine

John Ewers: Ohio. Retired manager at NCR Corporation, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, 66, married, father of four.

Sentence: 6 months, $1000 fine

Jack Gilroy: New York. High school teacher, married, father of four.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine-- in custody

Clare Hanrahan: North Carolina. Freelance writer/journalist, gardener, 52, mother of one.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine

Martha Hayward: Michigan. Middle school teacher, 56, married, mother of four (including Rachel)

Sentence: 3 yrs probation, $3,000 fine

Rachel Louise Hayward: Michigan. Student, majoring in biology and Spanish, 19, daughter of Martha.

Sentence: 6 months

Dorothy M. Hennessey: Iowa. Dubuque Franciscan, peace worker, 88, sister of Gwen.

Sentence: 6 months

Gwen Hennessey: Iowa. Dubuque Franciscan, peace worker, 68, sister of Dorothy.

Sentence: 6 months

Rita Hohenshell: Iowa. Retired, 76, mother of four, grandmother of five.

Sentence: 3 months

William Houston: Ohio. Retired professor, 72, father of two, husband of Hazel.

Sentence: 6 months, $1000 fine

John Alfred Hunt Jr: North Carolina. Community educator and activist.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine

Steve Jacobs: Missouri. Member of the St. Francis Catholic Worker, veteran and folksinger.

Sentence: One year

Rebecca Kanner: Michigan. Environmental educator, UAW member, 43.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine

Joel Kilgour: Minnesota. Baker in cooperative bakery, member of Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker, 24.

Sentence: 1 month

Richard John Kinane: Colorado. Teacher and contemplative psychotherapist, 51.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine

Elizabeth Anne McKenzie: Minnesota. Retired teacher, Sister of St. Joseph, 71.

Sentence: 6 months

Karl Meyer: Tennessee. Member of Nashville Greenland Community, activist with Catholic Worker movement for 44 years.

Sentence: 6 months-- in custody

Lois Putzier: Arizona. Union organizer, married.

Sentence: 6 months

Eric Robison: Washington. Social justice activist, 21.

Sentence: 6 months, $500 fine

Miriam Spencer: Washington. Member of Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, actively retired, 75.

Sentence: 6 months

Kathryn Temple: North Carolina. Artist, writer, feminist, 28.

Sentence: 2 years probation, $500 fine

Hazel Tulecke: Ohio. Retired, 77, mother of four, wife of William.

Sentence: 3 months

Mary Alice Vaughan: Minnesota. Retired elementary school teacher, former Sister of St. Joseph, 68.

Sentence: 6 months, $150 fine