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Women Protesting Against School of the Americas

March 04, 1998

The jury trial of five School of the Americas Watch activists began this week in Columbus, Georgia, Federal court. The charges stem from a September 1997 act of civil disobedience at the main gate of Fort Benning, Georgia, where the Pentagon trains Latin American soldiers.

A broad coalition of human rights groups, Congressional representatives and peace activists say that the School’s graduates are involved in the hemisphere’s most heinous human rights violations and they are demanding that it be closed. Indeed, the Latin America press refers to Fort Benning as the School of the Assassins.

As part of Womens’ History Month, a conversation with two women who now face as much as ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for allegedly destroying government property last September. The verdict is expected to be handed down later today or tomorrow.

Their action was followed by a mass arrest in November last year of 600 protesters.


  • Sister Marge Ellerman, a 60-year-old Catholic sister from Booneville, Kentucky. She was a former missionary in Chiapas, Mexico, and now works with the rural poor.
  • Kathleen Rumpf, a 47-year-old advocate for the homeless and a former Plowshares prisoner of conscience.

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