Tomorrow a Catholic nun, a Jesuit priest and three other anti-war activists will be sentenced in Columbus, Georgia for transforming a sign at the main gate of nearby Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the host of the School of the Americas, a U.S. training center for the Latin American military. In their September 29, 1997 public protest, the five pried metal letters off of the entrance sign, replacing them with ten words stenciled in red paint: “Home of School of Americas/ School of Shame,” and ”SOA = torture.”
In September 1996, the Pentagon acknowledged that the SOA had long used training manuals endorsing torture, extortion, and assassination. The SOA is widely known to peace activists as: 'The School of the Assassins.'
On March 4, a jury found the five SOA activists guilty of destruction of government property with malicious intent, a felony. They will each be sentenced by federal judge, J. Robert Elliott, to up to 14 months in prison. Elliot is the same judge who in the past has exonerated the lieutenant in charge of the My Lai massacre and jailed Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Kathleen Rumpf, a prison advocate from Syracuse, New York.
- Ed Kinane, a peace activist from New York. Earlier this year, he and 21 other activists were sentenced by Judge Elliot, the same judge who will be presiding tomorrow, to a $3000 fine and the maximum penalty of six months for unlawful entry, a misdemeanor. Their crime: peacefully seeking to petition Fort Benning to close the SOA.
- Caroline Richardson, a United Methodist minister who was just released from prison last Friday for protesting the SOA.
- SOA WATCH. Call: (706) 682-5369