Dear Friends - October 24, 2002

October 24, 2002

Reflections from Prison
Erik Johnson 90971-020, FCI Manchester MB2, PO Box 3000, Manchester, KY 40962

Note: Please accept this form letter as a personal word to you. My wife, Libby and friends, are mailing it to you to assure that we stay connected while I am here at Manchester. I am grateful to you and many others for your outpouring of support and prayers for me and the other SOA prisoners of conscience in prison around the country. Know that all is well with me as I try to walk in peace with inmates, many who yearn for peace in their difficult struggles.
Dear Friends,
In the early morning hours of November 16, 1989, death walkers, trained at the School of the Americas, made their civil-minded way through the streets of El Salvador brandishing murder in their hands and hearts. Their target: six Jesuit priests, their community housekeeper and her teenage daughter. These beautiful, peace-filled people of faith were slaughtered mercilessly, their mutilated and bullet-filled bodies left for friends to discover. Their stories will be told by more than 10,000 of their friends (perhaps numbering 20,000.. .40,000) who will walk for peace on November 16 & 17 to the gates of Ft. Benning and remember all who walked for peace and were killed for their walk in solidarity with the suffering poor of Latin America. !Presente! We will remember all our sisters and brothers who were viciously murdered by graduates of SOA. Their courage and message of hope, faith, and truth lives on in our hearts. We will be unified in love and in common cause to close the SOA! To stop the killings!
It's difficult to fathom the human cost of the School of the Americas turning out graduates for over five decades. The blood of hundreds of thousands of our Latin American family has been deliberately spilled by the terror perpetuated by SOA graduates. The ongoing sniper attacks in Washington D.C. area awaken memories of being in Nicaragua with Witness for Peace in 1984. If you were a coffee picker or farmer, harvesting food, you lived with the real horror each day of one of the US trained, countless Contra snipers assassinating you. Imagine snipers in every major city and small town across this country. You might feel something of the sheer terror this nation has sponsored and continues to deliver to the people of Colombia and around the world. The SOA is a death-making, combat-training school of terrorism. No wonder the world is so violent.
Yet, I walk with you in peace and hope in those terrible times of crises. There are so many wonderful stories of courage that have come to me from you: - a friend on an exploring, peaceful walk in a city in southern Spain bends her ears to drummings and discovers herself in the midst of people from the region and beyond into Africa who were demonstrating for peace and against US war in Iraq. One of many signs bore tills message: "This world deserves better than WAR". Indeed. - a new friend on a farm in Iowa will once again risk arrest in her determined, courageous and faith-filled walk in Columbus, Georgia at this November's SOAW action. - a friend walked through southwest Georgia on a recent prison Jail Project, Freedom Walk - another friend's walk for peace is one that is ongoing, slowly, prayerfully, as she discerns how deep to go this year at SOAW event at Ft. Benning - friends from Ohio are planning a Peace Run from Cincinnati to Manchester federal prison here in solidarity with all the SOAW Prisoners of Conscience incarcerated, and those recently released {Summer and Laura, alleluia!} - friends in Japan are leading a peace walk in November to Hiroshima and will then lead a Peace Run across Australia, Japan, and the US to nuclear weapons sites next year. - friends from Knoxville, New Mexico, Oregon, New York, and places in between tell of candlelight vigils and peace walks against the war on Iraq and elsewhere. - my friends from SOAW, plowshares, and other nonviolent acts of love walk their walk of peace in their federal prison cells
The images of peace walks and peace runs loom large for me in these days when human life and Earth itself are viewed by the powers and principalities as expendable for the sake of domination urges; as if there is nothing sacred about the human and nonhuman family of which we are a part. Such sacrilege! Such ugliness! The picture of a peace walk or run helps redeem the shameful tragedies of terrorism.
I wrote the poem that follows to capture my experience and knowledge of these magnificent and humbling walkers.

In Peace,

To download a copy of this document right click here