Vigil reportback - Legislative action - Upcoming trial - In remembrance Print
SOA Watch Update
December 2, 2004

1. Vigil reportback: media coverage, photos, building on our momentum
2. Planning for legislative action in the new Congress
3. Thirteen anti-SOA human rights defenders prepare for trial
4. SOA watch Newsletter
5. In Remembrance of Sue Daniels and Niklan Jones-Lezama

1. Vigil reportback: media coverage, solidarity actions, photos and building on our momentum

This year?s vigil and direct action at the gates of Fort Benning received excellent media coverage, with an Associated Press article running in numerous national outlets including USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post. Additionally, The Nation and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran stories on the vigil, as well as many local media outlets around the country.

The gathering received national Spanish-language media coverage, including Univision and CNN en Espa?ol, and international coverage as well. Newspapers such as Mexico?s La Jornada and El Universal, Panama?s La Prensa, Guatemala?s Prensa Libre, Colombia?s El Tiempo and many others ran stories on the gathering.

In the article ?Seven days for consideration,? La Jornada of Mexico places the Vigil to Close the SOA in a broad context of anti-militarist actions that took place throughout the Americas the week of November 16-22. Click here to read the article.

Contributing to the excellent media coverage were solidarity actions calling for the closure of WHINSEC that took place across the Americas and in Europe: in Montpellier, France; Dublin, Ireland; Santiago, Chile; Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada; Las Vegas, Nevada; Tacoma, Washington; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and Sacramento, California. In Sacramento, 11 people were arrested at the federal building on Friday, November 19 calling for the end of training for repressive forces at WHINSEC. Click here for more information on solidarity actions, and please let us know of other gatherings that took place in conjunction with the Ft. Benning vigil.

Check out much more coverage of the vigil in the SOA Watch newsroom.

See photos of the vigil and convergance

~ View Linda Panetta?s photos at SOA Watch Northeast:

~ Check out the Atlanta Independent Media Center?s coverage:

Build on the momentum of the vigil: Continue the struggle to close the SOA/ WHINSEC in your community

Regroup with people from your area who you met at the vigil or who took part in a solidarity action in your community. Get together for a reportback, to share experiences and to discuss next steps that you can take to close the SOA/ WHINSEC and to change US foreign policy. We need your creativity, your ideas and energy to create the world we want to live in!

Visit the local groups page for organizing contacts in your area.

Contact the SOA Watch office at 202-234-3440 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

2. Planning for legislative action in the new Congress

Now that the vigil is over, what are you doing to close the SOA/WHINSEC?

SOA Watch has led a thriving legislative campaign since 1993, a campaign that forced a ?closure? of the SOA in 2000. The opening of WHINSEC was indeed a slick public relations move that did cause some Members of Congress to wait and see if this ?new? institution could reform. But we are gaining momentum again and we will soon see the day when the majority of Congress will see that you could never reform without full accountability, and you cannot teach democracy or human rights at an institution that is synonymous with torture. There will be a vote in the 109th and a victory is possible, but not without you!

Over 2000 post cards were mailed to Congress from Columbus, Georgia, but the action isn?t over yet. You can purchase 20 full color post cards for only $1 to use for local action. They are a great way to educate more people about efforts to close the SOA/WHINSEC and an easy way to lobby Congress.

Plan to come to Washington, DC Feb 21-22 for the 2005 Lobby Day and Action on Capitol Hill. This is a very important event, as we will be introducing new legislation and want to come out quick and powerful in the 109th Congress.

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for an organizing packet including info on getting to DC, where to stay and resources to take action. (A $3 donation to cover costs would be appreciated.) We also have 4x6 palm cards advertising this event you can use locally: 20 for $1.

Though Congress is technically finished, they work all year round. Now is the time to get commitments from your Reps that they will co-sponsor legislation. If you do get a promise of co-sponsorship or a vote please let the SOA Watch office know, 202-234-3440. If your Rep is on board, start working on your Senator?they can sponsor a companion bill. (The new Reps officially begin on Jan 4.)

Visit the Legislative Action Page for all the resources you?ll need to lobby Congress like tips, sample letters, and talking points. Visit to find out who your Reps and Senators are. Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

3. Thirteen anti-SOA human rights defenders prepare for January 24 trials

Thirteen people arrested at Fort Benning, Georgia on November 21, 2004 calling for the closure of the SOA/ WHINSEC will face trials in federal court on January 24, 2004. Ten arrestees were released from custody after a night in jail on $1,000 bond; one, a Georgia resident, was released on $500 bond; one, Ed Lewinson, was not charged; and one, 79-year-old Tom MacLean, initially refused to pay bond but was released on his own recognizance this week and will appear in court on January 24. Two minors arrested on the base were not charged.

Check the SOA Watch website at for updates on the status of these defendants.

4. The hottest read in town: the SOA Watch Newsletter

In the SOA Watch DC office, Sarah Mertz is already hard at work on the next edition of the ?SOA Watch Update,? the newsletter of the SOA Watch movement. Are you subscribed to this free quarterly newsletter? If you?re not but you?d like to be, let us know! Send us an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , call us at 202-234-3440 or drop us a line at PO Box 4566, Washington, DC 20017. Let us know your name and contact info and we?ll add you to our mailing list.

5. In remembrance on Sue Daniels and Niklan Jones-Lezama

Last weekend SOA Watch received news of the tragic deaths of Sue Daniels and Niklan Jones-Lezama, both of Blacksburg, Virginia. Sue?s remains were found in her burned-down cabin on Thursday, November 18, and Niklan was found nearby on Saturday, November 20, dead of self-inflicted knife wounds, in what police are investigating as a murder-suicide.

Sue and Niklan were active in the campaign to close the SOA, and both served time in prison for ?crossing the line? at Fort Benning in November of 2001. Sue, a biologist, worked actively to combat violence against women.

Claudia Jones-Lezama, Niklan?s wife and his family released a statement last week: "Our beloved Nik is gone. We are suffering in our loss, and we are struggling to comprehend the tragedy. Nik had a gentle and compassionate nature and felt a strong responsibility to fight injustice in the world. In the end he became overwhelmed by his own despair. We offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Sue Daniels."

Several memorial services have been held for Sue, and one is planned for Niklan tomorrow, December 3. Sue's family has requested that gifts in Sue's honor be made to the following organizations: Women?s Resource Center of the New River Valley (, PO Box 477, Radford, VA 24143; and Mountain Justice Summer, c/o Abigail Singer, 2131 Riverside Dr., Knoxville, TN 37915. Memorial contributions for Niklan may be made to his family in care of Glade Church, 1600 Glade Rd., Blacksburg, VA 24060 (Attn. Jones-Lezama).

The Roanoke Times ran a story focusing on Sue and violence against women this week. Read it here:

SOA Watch sends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sue and Niklan, who both brought a passion for justice and social change to their work to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.