Yesterday in Columbus, GA ten thousand people from every state gathered to demand the closing of the U.S. Army Schoolof the Americas at Fort Benning. The school has trained thousands of officers from Central and Latin Americancountries, and its alumni association reads like a who’s who of the hemisphere’s worst state terrorists: FormerPanamanian dictator General Noriega; Roberto d-Aubuisson, the founder of El Salvador’s death squads, Guatemala’sColonel Roberto Alpirez, responsible for the torture and execution of Jennifer Harbury’s husband Efrain BamacaVelasquez; and the officers involved in the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero.
More than two dozen people were sent to federal prison last year after committing acts of civil disobedience at FortBenning, including 88 year old Franciscan nun Dorothy Hennessy and 19 year old college student Rachel Hayward.
After the September 11 attacks authorities at Fort Benning sealed off the base and sought an injunction to keep theannual protest from happening, citing the threat of terrorism. Activists say the main threat of terror comes fromthe military officers trained at the school who commit human rights abuses in their own countries.
- Ray Kraemer, Syracuse Peace Council, one of 85 people arrested at the SOA yesterday.
- Jeff Winder, Co-Director of the Washington Office of SOA Watch.
- Jackie Downing, Senior at Oberlin College, on SOA Watch national board.