Students, Steelworker, Farmer, Retiree<br>Sentenced to Federal Prison Print
Columbus, GA ? Today five human rights advocates?including a chaplain, students, a Steelworker, a farmer and a 79-year-old retiree?were sentenced to three months in federal prison and fines of up to $500 for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience calling for the closure of the US Army?s School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). Another defendant was sentenced to one year of probation with a $1,000 fine. Eight of their co-defendants ? two of whom are high school students ? will continue their trials tomorrow.

?It?s a sad day when peace protestors go to prison,? said Liz Deligio, 28, a chaplain and student from Chicago, Illinois sentenced to three months in prison, ?and the perpetrators of human rights violations will never see the inside of a courthouse ? let alone a jail.?

The defendants were among more than 16,000 who gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning on November 20-21, 2004 to call for the closure of the controversial school, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). The group is charged with peacefully crossing onto the military base, site of the SOA/ WHINSEC, at the culmination of a symbolic funeral procession in memory of victims of graduates of the school.

The fourteen are on trial before Judge G. Mallon Faircloth, known for handing down stiff sentences to opponents of the SOA/ WHINSEC. Since protests against the institution began more than a decade ago, more than 170 people have served a total of over 75 years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school.

The SOA/ WHINSEC is a military training school located at Fort Benning, Georgia where over 60,000 Latin American security personnel have been trained in courses including counterinsurgency, psychological warfare and interrogation techniques. Graduates of the school have been consistently linked to human rights violations and to the suppression of popular movements in Central and South America.

?The spirit of hope and the courage of the defendants rose above the punitive verdicts handed down in court today,? stated Deligio.

SOA Watch, founded in 1990, is a national, grassroots organization committed to nonviolence. SOA Watch has held a demonstration at the main entrance to Ft. Benning each November since 1990 calling for the closure of the training facility.

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The 14 SOA/ WHINSEC Defendants
(listed in order of state)

* To arrange interviews: 202-903-7257 * *


  • Elizabeth ?Liz? Deligio, 28, Chicago, IL ? 3 months in prison; $500 fine

  • Tom MacLean, 79, Ashfield, MA ? 3 months in federal medical facility

  • Elizabeth Nadeau, 27, Minneapolis, MN ? 3 months in prison; $500 fine

  • Meagan Doty, 22, St. Louis, MO, student in Dayton, OH ? 3 months in prison, $500 fine

  • Michael ?Mike? Ring, 65, Wall, NJ ? 1 year of probation; $1,000 fine

  • Dan Schwankl, 31, Siler City, NC ? 3 months in prison; $500 fine

Awaiting Trial

  • Brian DeRouen, 27, Fairfield, CA, student in Dayton, OH

  • Aaron Shuman, 32, Oakland, CA

  • Robert ?Nashua? Chantal, 52, Americus, GA

  • Ronald Durham, 24, Chicago, IL

  • Sr. Lelia ?Lil? Mattingly, 63, Maryknoll, NY

  • Alice Gerard, 48, Buffalo, NY

  • Two minors