Today's Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning Print
November 20, 2004, 3 pm

Dear Friends,

We write you from the SOA Watch Media Office overlooking the main gates of Fort Benning, Georgia where crowds of more than 10,000 people have gathered to CLOSE THE SOA once and for all! Fort Benning Road is packed with community activists, women religious, children, union organizers and people from across the Americas who have come to take a stand for justice.

We just heard moving speeches from Susan Sarandon and Sr. Helen Prejean, who called for the closure of the SOA/ WHINSEC. A statement recorded this
year by US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was played as a colorful Puppetista pageant ?-featuring the 20-foot-tall World?s Largest Puppet Head -- paraded the length of Fort Benning Road towards the main gate of the military base, home of the notorious School of Assassins.

This morning hundreds of SOA Watchers attended a Morning Plenary to discuss the upcoming events of the weekend and the spirit in which all of
us are working together to close the SOA. This evening?s events include workshops, film screenings, caucuses, and group discussions, all preparing us for the procession this Sunday.

Spirits are high today as we ready ourselves for our gathering tomorrow. We have moved to inspirational music, listened to moving speeches, and reveled in the joyful spirit infusing the gathering. One person has been arrested for climbing over the barricades that have been erected to prevent protesters from entering the area except for two entrances, which are being monitored by police.

Martin Sheen will be with us tomorrow and will walk with us in the solemn funeral procession that is the culmination of our gathering. Many in the
gathering will negotiate a barbed-wire fence and enter the military base in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, risking arrest and
imprisonment. Since protests began over a decade ago, over 170 people have served sentences of up to 2 years in prison.

For up-to-date news on the gathering, please visit our homepage at, or visit the Atlanta Independent Media Center at

Together we can CLOSE THE SOA!

The SOA Watch Media Team