Peace Porridge #13, Largest US Anti-Terrorist Organization attracts 10,000|
Federal Judge Upholds Constitution
21 Nov 2001
Ten Thousand non-violent anti-terrorists from all over the United States converged on Fort Benning, home of the terrorist Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly School of the Americas, but known throughout Latin America as the School of Assassins.) The message was clear. We do not fight terrorism with terrorism. We follow in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. We understand that terrorism breeds more terrorism in a never ending escalating cycle. We will break the cycle. We will stay here in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Latin America, Afghanistan and Palestine. We will stay the course, as long as it takes to close down this school whose graduates have committed again and again unspeakable crimes: murder, torture, rape, kidnapping, and all forms of intimidation directed against the poor and oppressed, their leaders, and the religious who work in solidarity with them. We will close down this institution which shamelessly admitted that it used a manual describing torture techniques to train officers of some of the most abusive regimes in Latin America.
This annual demonstration, organized by School of the Americas Watch, commemorates the assassination of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter in El Salvador by 19 graduates of the School of the Americas on November 16, 1989. What I found most inspiring was the large number of young people present. Those under 25 far outnumbered us older folk. I was also impressed by the knowledge and commitment of these young anti-terrorists.
The anti-terrorists marched in a solemn funeral procession to the gates of Fort Benning, carrying thousands of white crosses, each inscribed with the name of a victim of School of Americas terror. These crosses were left at the gate, along with other solemn reminders of the terror perpetrated by this institution.
The City of Columbus had sought an injunction to prevent the funeral procession from taking place; but Federal Judge G. Mallon Faircloth ruled that the anti-terrorists had a constitutional right to demonstrate. In justifying his decision, Judge Faircloth said, "It was a question of First Amendment rights, and you can't play with that. I am sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution. I think I did that today."
Judge Faircloth's ruling came as a surprise. SOA Watch founder, Father Roy Bourgeois remarked to no one in particular, "Tell me this is happening."
Last May, Judge Faircloth sentenced 26 anti-terrorists, including central Missouri's own Steve Jacobs of the Saint Francis Catholic Worker community in Columbia, and 84 year old Sister Dorothy Hennessey to prison for non-violently entering Fort Benning. Apparently, the judge's heart was touched by Sister Hennessey, as he mentioned her several times in rendering his landmark decision. Never underestimate the power of non-violent civil disobedience, or of an 84 year old nun.
This weekend's anti-terrorist activities have made it clear: the peace and justice movement in the United States is alive and well, and growing by leaps and bounds. If we were set back by the events of September 11, and the calls for unity behind an illegitimate president whose answer to terrorism is more and greater terrorism, attacks on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and civil liberties, and giving away more of the national treasury to the super-wealthy; it was only temporary. We shall overcome. We shall put an end to state sponsored terrorism, here in the United States, and around the world.
For more information visit School of the Americas Watch.