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Home News Organizing Updates Return to Life & Call for Direct Action
Return to Life & Call for Direct Action PDF Print E-mail

SOA Watch Update
November 7, 2006

In this email, you'll find:

  • November 17-19: Return to Life!
  • A Call for Non-Violent Direct Action
  • Scedule of Events for November 16-19

  • November 17-19: Return to Life!

    Three Days for Peace, Justice and Accountability

    On the weekend of November 17-19, we will gather to commemorate the victims of human rights abuse, of violence, of greed, and of racial, sexual and religious discrimination. We will remember and honor their lives, their love for their communities and families and we will celebrate their resistance to oppression and injustice.

    Together, in numbers too big to be ignored, we will take a stand for justice, peace and accountability and against the racist system of violence and domination that is represented by the SOA/WHINSEC. We will make our voices heard with our message that repressive military action is not the answer to the problems of the people of the world. We cannot spread freedom and democracy with bullets, and violence only creates more violence.

    This year, civil rights movement leaders, torture survivors, grandmothers, war veterans, union organizers, faith communities, artists and social justice activists from around the world will join together in what may be the largest demonstration at a U.S. military base since the Vietnam War.

    We will share with and learn from the lives and experiences of many social justice leaders such as:

    - Charles Steele Jr., one of the main organizers of the ?Living the Dream? march and President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
    -Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive vice-president of the AFL-CIO.
    - A delegation of the Coalition OF Immokalee Workers, one of the most significant immigrant workers rights organizations in the U.S. today.
    - Maria Guardado, a human rights activist and torture survivor from El Salvador.
    - Co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walk Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
    - Patricia Isasa, human rights activists and torture survivor from Argentina.
    - Founder of the Moratorium Campaign and author of ?Dead Man Walking? Sister Helen Prejean.
    - Fernando Suarez del Solar, founder of the Guerrero Azteca Project.

    We will also be blessed with the beautiful sounds and inspiring message of artists such as Holly Near, Emily Sailers of the Indigo Girls, the Chestnut Brothers, Colleen Kattau, Francisco Herrera, Jose Saavedra, David Rovics, Emma?s Revolution and more.

    You still have doubts? Need to find a trip? Don?t know where to stay? Want to help from home?

    - Ride Board: This is a great tool for communities to come together and coordinate their travel to Ft. Benning. Find a Ride! Post a Ride!

    - Hotels, Motels & Camping - Contact the Columbus Visitor?s Bureau at 1-800-999-1613 for the latest info on hotel availability.

    - Travel Tips

    - Download the November Organizing Packet

    - Make a Donation to Support the Vigil.

    - Find out More about what you can expect at Fort Benning this November.

    - Visit our Website for more Information on the Vigil, including resources to assist your organizing.

    A Call for Non-Violent Direct Action

    ?If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.?
    - Henry David Thoreau

    Every year, groups of people decide to take their message onto Fort Benning, publicly defying the laws which prevent political speech on military bases and making a bold call for the closure of the ?School of Assassins.?

    Nonviolent direct action has been the backbone of the movement to close the SOA/WHINSEC. Countless actions have taken place in this country as well as in Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Austria, France, Germany and other countries around the world. Thousands have put their bodies on the line, fasted and participated in the annual November vigil, and hundreds have been arrested for speaking out against the violence perpetrated by the SOA/WHINSEC and U.S. foreign policy.

    We encourage people to come as individuals and affinity groups to take non-violent direct action to help liberate us all from oppressive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and to close the SOA/WHINSEC.

    Some people will choose to take their message onto Ft. Benning near the main gate and our vigil area, navigating over or around the fence built to keep us out. In past years, people have done this in a variety of ways, and entered the base with numerous messages. Some entered Ft. Benning to deliver an indictment of the SOA, others carried petitions for the closure of the school, and others carried coffins and re-enacted massacres to commemorate those who have died at the hands of SOA/WHINSEC graduates.

    Some people will form affinity groups to take action at other locations in Ft. Benning. Creative nonviolent direct actions have occurred at other entrances and at various locations inside the base including the barracks where SOA/WHINSEC soldiers are housed, the chapel, and the SOA/WHINSEC building itself.

    Come to Ft. Benning this year and participate in nonviolent direct action to make a bold statement supporting self-determination and justice for all--Shut Down this School of Assassins!

    People who have entered Ft. Benning to call for the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC are arrested, prosecuted, and often sentenced to prison. Over 200 SOA Watch activists have spent a combined total of more than 80 years in prison for speaking truth to power within the confines of a military base. While a serious undertaking, we think this is a small price to pay to dramatize and call attention to the enormous horrors that result from the training at the SOA/WHINSEC and the foreign policy that it represents. Together we raise a loud cry to shut down this School of the Assassins, whatever name they give it.

    Please read the Legal Briefing for People Considering Civil Disobedience at the SOA Protest, 2006

    A Spokescouncil Meeting to coordinate the direct action scenario will take place in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday, November 18.

    If you or your group wants assistance with discernment and nonviolence training, former Prisoners of Conscience are willing to come and visit your group. Contact Judith Kelly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to be put in touch with someone.

    Schedule of Events for November 16-19

    Not only is this years Vigil going to be one of the largest in numbers, it is also going to be one the busiest!

    Over 50 workshops, teach-ins, and trainings, five film screenings, and three benefit concerts will take place throughout the weekend at the Columbus Convention Center, Howard Johnson Hotel and Eyedrum Gallery in Atlanta, covering topics such as Ending Impunity in Argentina, Alternative Security, Counter-Recruitment, ?The Maria Guardado Story?, Theatre of the Oppressed and more.

    A lot of workshops and events will take place at the same time and room is limited so most events are on ?first come first serve? basis or you need to RSVP to assist.

    Here are some highlights of the Vigil weekend events:


    1-5pm: FORMER PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE GATHERING and Re-Entry Workshop @ HJ Presidential Room
    8-11pm: SOA WATCH BENEFIT CONCERT IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA! w/ Holly Near, Chestunt Brothers, Jose Saavedra, Colleen Kattau, David Rovics and many more @ Eyedrum Gallery


    9am-5pm: FROM VIOLENCE TO WHOLENESS : an in-depth study on the philosophy of nonviolence sponsored by Pace e Bene @ CC 211
    9am-12pm: SOA WATCH NONVIOLENCE TRAININGS - "Introduction to Non-Violent Action" and "Increasing Your Skills in Non-violent Action" @ CC 207 & 208
    1:30-4pm: SOA WATCH PEACEMAKER TRAINING for First-time Volunteers @ CC 201
    3:30-6pm: COLOMBIA TEACH-IN @ HJ Pres Room
    5-6:30pm: FILM - The Maria Guardado Story @ CC 208
    5-6:30pm: COUNTER RECRUITMENT WORKSHOP - Presented by the Center on Conscience & War @ CC 211
    5-7pm: FILM - The Exonerated. Presented by the Georgia ACLU @ CC 202
    5-7pm: COINTELNOW - A Security Training Curriculum for Community Organizers. Presented by Third World Majority @ CC 20
    7-9:30pm: FILM - ?Nuestro Petroleo y Otros Cuentos?- Facilitated by Randall Pfleger, Christian Guerrero, and Rising Tide North America @ CC 202
    9:30pm: BENEFIT CONCERT w/ Charlie King and Karen Brandow, Dave Lippman, Elise Witt, Francisco Herrera, Jon Fromer, Pete Cassani, Prince Myshkins, Sara Thomsen and more @ HJ Pres


    8:30-9:30am: SOA WATCH REGIONAL MEETING - Come and learn how you can get involved with SOA Watch organizing in your region! All are welcome! @ CC Ballroom
    8:30am-11am: WITNESS FOR PEACE Open House @ HJ Pres
    9:30-11am: MORNING PLENARY - All participants are asked to attend to receive crucial Legal, Direct Action, and Legislative information for the weekend. Come and learn about SOA Watch's 2007 Campaigns to Close the SOA! @ CC Ballroom BC
    10-11am: KIDS LEARN SOA SONGS @ CC 103
    5-6:30pm: Updates on the FAIR FOOD MOVEMENT with the COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS @ CC 202
    5-6:30pm: TEA PARTY hosted by 1000 GRANDMOTHERS @ CC 202 - Please contact carol(at)1000grandmothers.net to RSVP if you?re interested in participating in this event
    5:30-6:30pm: HELP ME WRITE MY NEW BOOK - A Workshop with Sr. Helen Prejean @ CC 213
    5:30-7pm: THEATER OF THE OPPRESSED with Hector Aristiz?baL @ CC Ballroom
    7-8pm: HOPE ARISING - Aymara Perspectives on Indigenous Women's Issues in Bolivia @ CC 205
    7-9pm: COINTELNOW - Security Training for Community Organizers - Presented by Third World Majority @ CC 202
    7:30-8:30pm: SOA WATCH New Movie Premier - CROSSING THE LINE! Come see SOA Watch's newest film resource produced and directed by students for the movement! @ CC Ballroom BC
    8-9:15pm: FILM - Hidden in Plain Sight @ CC 208
    8-9:30pm: DIRECT ACTION MEETING - All CD participants should come to coordinate actions and join affinity groups. Please attend if you wish to participate in a non-arrestable scenario, such as acting as a coffin-bearer @ CC 213
    8-10pm: EL ENEMIGO COMUN Y EL MACHETE - Neoliberalism and Mesoamerican Principles of Unity and Resistance @ CC 205
    8:30-9:30pm: VENEZUELA UPDATE - featuring the Honorable Ambassador to Venezuela Bernardo Alvarez Herrera and SOA Watch Latin America Program Coordinator Lisa Sullivan @ CC 103
    9:30pm: BENEFIT CONCERT w/ Holly Near with Afro Colombian and Llajtasuyo; and special guests Chestnut Brothers, David Rovics, Emma?s Revolution, Kuumba Lynx, Sonia, and Tao Rodrigez-Seeger @ CC Ballroom



    View the Full Schedule.


    Contact us

    SOA Watch
    733 Euclid Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    phone: 202-234-3440
    email: info@soaw.org