Robert Cherwink (rc@vom.com)
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 18:03:51 -0800

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

SCHOOL OF ASSASSINS PROTEST UPDATE 21 Nov 1997 Close the School of the Americas!

Prison terms for three Army school protesters [more]

---------------------------- For more information about the School of the Americas and SOA Watch, see http://www.derechos.org/soaw/ or send email to soaw@derechos.org ----------------------------

>From the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, November 20, 1997
6 months in prison, fine punishment for 3 SOA foes By Wayne Partridge, Staff Writer

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced three opponents of the U.S. Army School of the Americas to six months in prison for their actions at Sunday's demonstration against the Fort Benning school.

Twenty-five other protesters, all of whom have been arrested for previous demonstrations at the post, are expected to receive similar sentences if convicted on trespassing charges before a federal judge in March.

"We all knew the potential consequences when we made the decision to cross the line," said Carol Richardson, S.O.A. Watch's Washington, D.C., coordinator, and one of the three sentenced Wednesday. "Personally, if serving prison time brings more attention to the issue, then it's worth it."

Opponents blame the school for the conduct of several of its graduates, who have been linked to human rights abuses throughout Latin America. School supporters say the school's training has helped its graduates stop countless wars, coups and human rights abuses.

About 2,000 demonstrators, including college students, nuns, priests and war veterans, crowded in front of Fort Benning's main gate Sunday for three hours of prayers, speeches and singing before more than 600 of them marched slowly into Fort Benning in defiance of police orders to remain off post.

Fort Benning police allowed protesters to march about a half mile along the post's main road before arresting and loading them onto buses. Post officials spent about $1,800 for soup and sandwiches they provided protesters during processing. Those without previous arrests on post received letters banning them from Fort Benning.

But Army leaders decided to prosecute the 28 marchers who had been arrested at earlier demonstrations on post, and ordered them to appear before U.S. Magistrate William Slaughter on Wednesday.

Of the 27 who showed up Wednesday, all but three waived the option of entering a plea with Slaughter, and opted to take their cases to the higher U.S. District Court. They will be ordered to return sometime early next year to enter a plea, and their cases likely will go before U.S. District Judge Robert Elliott in March, defense and prosecuting attorneys said.

Three demonstrators -- Richardson, 53, of Washington, D.C.; Anne Herman, 64, of Binghamton, N.Y.; and Richard Streb, 72, of Roanoke, Va. -- decided to enter "no contest" pleas with Slaughter, who immediately sentenced them to six months in prison and fined them $3,010 each. They will begin serving their time in about one to three months, as space becomes available, court officials said.

Before sentencing, Slaughter told the demonstrators they should have taken their case for closing the School of the Americas to Congress instead of marching onto Fort Benning.

"Why in the world you would want to do this is beyond me," Slaughter said. "Where does the money come from for operating the School of the Americas? Congress. Why not persuade Congress not to appropriate funds instead of taking this unusual route around the process?"

But several demonstrators said after the court hearing that they repeatedly have taken their case to Congress, which so far has defeated measures to restrict funding to the school. By breaking the law and serving prison time, school opponents said they can call more attention to the issue and inspire others to pressure their representatives to close the school.

"If they think prison is a deterrent, they are wrong," Richardson said. "They put 13 people in prison in 1995 and it energized and mobilized a network of people. Last year, 60 crossed the line. This year, 600. The movement won't stop growing until the school is closed."

----------------------- NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for research and educational purposes. -----------------------

---------------------------- For more information about the School of the Americas and SOA Watch, see http://www.derechos.org/soaw/ or send email to soaw@derechos.org ----------------------------


Rob, Sector Air Raid Warden at Rob's Place http://www.vom.com/rc/home.htm A SITE DEDICATED TO SPIRIT, TRUTH, PEACE, JUSTICE, AND FREEDOM /RENEGADE/ newsletter: http://fornits.com/renegade/ Robert Cherwink <rc@vom.com> Usenet: alt.thebird


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