Sample Letter to the Editor about Upcoming Trials Print
Sample Letter to the Editor for Defendants

Dear Editor:

[Any LTE will be much stronger if it connects to a recent article in the paper. Use your first two sentences to make the connection between a recent story about Latin America, about U.S. foreign policy, about domestic spending priorities, about torture or about military accountability. Keep your letter short and to the point - about 150-200 words. Read the letters page - you will learn how to develop an effective letter-writing style, and you will see if someone has already responded with your idea. Feel free to use any of the information below to fill in your LTE.]

Together with other [your town] residents, I joined over 20,000 people at Fort Benning, Georgia in November to call for the closure of the controversial School of the Americas and for a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy. Graduates of this school, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) have been consistently linked to human rights violations and the suppression of popular movements in Central and South America.

I was part of a group of 11 that peacefully crossed onto Fort Benning, site of the school. All of us believe so strongly that this school must be closed that we took this action despite knowing we face a likely three to six month federal prison sentence as a result. My trial is scheduled to begin on January 28 in Columbus, Georgia.

Magistrate Faircloth is known for giving the maximum sentence of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHINSEC. Since protests again the SOA began in 1990, more than 226 people have served a over 92 years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school.

Meanwhile, the SOA/WHINSEC and its graduates have continued to operate without any type of real accountability. But the tide is shifting. Pentagon PR campaigns haven't fooled the public, and draconian prison sentences haven't deterred this growing movement to close the SOA. In June of 2006 a bill to cut funding to the SOA/WHINSEC was narrowly defeated in Congress by a margin of six votes.

I will face trial in January knowing that lasting peace and security can only be found if we implement a foreign policy that reflects American ideals of true justice and democracy.

To learn more about the School of the Americas, visit www.SOAW.org or call 202-234-3440.

Sincerely,
[your name, address, phone and email]



For Supporters:

In these paragraphs, change the text to:

[Local resident's name(s)], of [local town] was/were part of a group of 11 that peacefully crossed onto Fort Benning, site of the school. All of them believe so strongly that this school must be closed that they took this action despite knowing they face a likely three to six month federal prison sentence as a result. [Her/His/Their] trial is scheduled to begin on January 28 in Columbus, Georgia....

When [local resident] and the other human rights advocates face trial in January, they will do so knowing that lasting peace and security can only be found if we implement a foreign policy that reflects American ideals of true justice and democracy.