Report Back from the November Vigil Print
Solemn voices lifted up the spirits of those killed by graduates of the School of the Americas and filled the air as the music team sang out their names from the stage during this morning's funeral procession in front of the entrance to Fort Benning. The crowd of thousands responded, "PRESENTE!"

Joining actor Martin Sheen on stage this weekend was Georgia NAACP State President Edward DuBose, who told the crowd many had asked him why he'd come here.

“I made a promise to Troy Anthony Davis that I would continue to speak out against any system that takes any innocent life,” DuBose told the crowd. “However long it takes, we'll be here. We're on this road until justice is served!”

United Auto Workers President Bob King also addressed the gathering, lifting up the voice of organized labor standing in solidarity with workers all across the Americas.

Social movement leaders from Colombia, Haiti, Honduras and Costa Rica joined the thousands of activists who made the trek to this year's vigil. Jimena Paz, who helped organize the SOA Watch Encuentro in Venezuela, and who, as a young member of the Honduran Resistance, has lost friends to the SOA-led repression campaign, shared her compelling story from the stage.

Dr. Luther Castillo, a young, Afro-indigenous Garifuna doctor and community organizer, directs the foundation For the Health of Our People ("Luagu Hatuadi Waduheñu" in the Garifuna language), and is the founder and director of the First Popular Garifuna Hospital of Honduras. Exposing the effects of SOA training of Honduran soldiers since the 2009 graduate-led military coup, Luther shared that he and the hospital have been subject to many threats of closure and other attacks by the military and coup government.

Jani Silva, a community organizer from La Perla Amazonica, Putumayo, Colombia, addressed the reality of US foreign policy in her country, which has sent more than 10,000 soldiers to be trained at the SOA with chilling results. Mario Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer, is representing political prisoners and victims of political violence in Haiti. He spoke from the stage, urging solidarity with Haitian struggle to keep the army from being brought back.

Also present among those giving testimony to SOA violence was Nelly del Cid, one of the Sisters of Mercy Associates from Honduras. She shared her deep concerns about the huge number of femicides since the coup. Costa Rican lawyer and peace advocate Luis Roberto Zamora also gave updates about the lawsuit he filed against the Costa Rican government for sending police to the School of the Americas/WHINSEC.

Theresa Cusimano, 43, of Denver, Colorado, crossed the line for the second time following the morning's solemn funeral procession. She was arrested by military police and faces up to six months in prison. Stay tuned for a message from Theresa!



See Photos from the November Vigil

Tom Bottolene of MN SOA Watch shared these images from the weekend