Columbus, GA - As the Bush Administration seeks to expand the “war on terrorism”, 43 human rights advocates from across the country are scheduled to appear for trial in federal court today where they intend to expose what they call a terrorist training camp on U.S. soil – the School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHISC). The defendants were among 10,000 who gathered in November to call for the closure of the SOA/WHISC, a controversial combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Graduates of the school continue to be implicated in egregious acts designed to terrorize and coerce civilian populations throughout Latin America.
“Human rights abuses are being overlooked when it’s convenient in the ‘war on terror,” said Sr. Dorothy Pagosa of Chicago. “We’re here to shine a light on a terrorist training camp that’s operating with impunity in our backyard.” Pagosa is one of six Catholic nuns who face trial.
The defendants peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the school. They are charged with trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and $5,000 in fines. Thirty-five others are scheduled to start trial on February 10. This past Tuesday two defendants pled guilty to “destruction of government property” charges. They await a sentencing date.
All of the defendants will appear before Judge G. Mallon Faircloth in Columbus. Faircloth is known for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC. Nearly one hundred people have served a total of over fifty years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school.
The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution. In a new report Amnesty International calls for a suspension of training at the SOA/WHISC, and an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the school. Amnesty refutes the claim that the WHISC is a new institution, stating that WHISC "is essentially the same school as SOA, with the same primary mission…”
“The SOA is out of alignment with both the interests and values of the American people,” said Dan Fortson, a veteran from Redway, CA, one of the 80, “We’re here to say ‘Not in our name!’”
The SOA Defendants
(listed in order of state)
To Arrange Interviews, Call: 706-221-1672
Key: Name / Court Date / City / State / Age / Description
J.C. Orton (2/10) Berkley, CA, 54, Father. Catholic Worker. Homeless Advocate. Peace & justice activist.
Carey Martin (2/10) Birmingham, AL, 24, Server.
Seth Cohen (1/27) Fair Oaks, CA, 22, Student at UCLA. Union organizer.
Rachel Montgomery (2/10) Oakland, CA, 26, Owner of pet sitting and dog walking business.
Linda Aguilar (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 19, Student.
Sondra Angulo (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 22, Artist. Media activist. Teacher.
Guadalupe Chavez (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 20, Student.
Donald Haselfeld (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 76, Retired from Recreation and Park Department. Writer.
Margaret Rossi (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 21, Senior at the University of San Francisco. Actor. Poet.
Laura Slattery (2/10) San Francisco, CA, 36, Nonviolence trainer.
Derrlyn Tom (1/27) San Francisco, CA, 44, Teacher.
Dan Fortson (1/27) Redway, CA, 43, Songwriter. Community activist. Served 5 years in US armed forces.
Lisa Hughes (1/27) Valyermo,CA, 37, Registered nurse. Worked for 5 years in El Salvador.
Michael Wisniewski (2/10) West Covina, CA, 53, Husband. Father. Grandfather. Freelance writer.
Daniel Manriquez (2/10) Denver, CO, 18, Salesperson.
Sarah Martin (2/10) Denver, CO, 19, Student.
Byron Plumley, Jr. (2/10) Denver, CO, 55, Grandpa. Educator. Peace activist. Catholic Worker volunteer.
Tiffany Winters (2/10) Denver, CO, 18, Student.
Eric Tews (2/10) Greenwood Village, CO, Student.
William Combs (1/27) Tallahassee, FL, 58, Retired school teacher. Active in several peace organizations.
Christine Gaunt (1/27) Grinnell, IA, 46, Mother. Hog farmer. Library assistant at Grinnell College.
Evalee (Lee) Mickey (2/10) Mt Pleasant, IA, 65, Retired farmer. Widowed homemaker.
Timothy Grivois (1/27) Chicago, IL, 21, Philosophy/religious studies major at Saint Xavier University
Sr. Kathy Long (1/27) Chicago, IL, 55, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister. Worker at 8th Day Center for Justice.
Sr. Dorothy Pagosa (1/27) Chicago, IL, 48, Worker at the 8th Day Center for Justice. Peace activist.
Sr. Joann Quinkert (1/27) Oak Lawn, IL, 71, Sister of Providence. Former teacher. Social ministry worker.
Douglas Kasper (2/10) Wheaton, IL, 58, Bricklayer. Peace activist. Member of St. Isidore Faith Community.
Jeremiah John (1/21) Bloomington, IN, 21, Activist. Science and logic major. Vagabond.
Charity Ryerson (1/21) Bloomington, IN, 20, Student. Activist.
Sr. Adele Beacham (1/27) Bloomington, IN, 76, Sister of Providence. Active volunteer.
Sr. Rita Gerardot (1/27) St. Mary of the Woods, IN, 76, Retired. Volunteer.
Sonja Andreas (2/10) Wichita, KS, 53, Psychiatric nurse.
Edith Balot (1/27) Jefferson, LA, 69, School social worker.
Jason Lydon (2/10) Hadley, MA, 20, Student.
Laurel Albina (Bischoff) (2/10) Jamaica Plain, MA, 27,Worker with Unitarian Universalist Association.
Michelle LaValley (2/10) Jamaica Plain, MA, 21, Unitarian Universalist Youth Programs.
Scott Schaeffer-Duffy (1/27) Worcester, MA, 44, Catholic Worker.
Christine LaVallee (1/27) Worcestor, MA, 27, Deli clerk.
John (Jack) Neis (2/10) Apple Valley, MN, 61, Retired NW Airlines captain. Husband. Father. Grandfather.
Loring Harkness IV (1/27) Northfield, MN, 21, Student.
Daniel Marx (1/27) Northfield, MN, 19, Student/activist.
Anika Walz (1/27) Stacy, MN, 19, Student at College of St. Catherine. Social justice peer minister.
Michael Ugarte (2/10) Columbia, MO, 53, Professor of Spanish Literature & Peace Studies at the Univ. of MO
Corbin Streett (2/10) Dublin, MS, 23, Supervisor at rehab center for teens. Member of peace & justice center.
Vera Brown (2/10) Greensboro, NC, 20, Undergraduate at Guilford College. Amnesty International member.
Robert Hiltonsmith (2/10) Greensboro, NC, 21, Senior at Guilford College. Anti-war activist.
Peter Jessup (2/10) Omaha, NE, Student.
Judy Bierbaum (1/27) Albuquerque, NM, 46, Clinical therapist.
Patrick Stanley (2/10) Bronx, NY, 20, Student.
Doris Reed (2/10) Endwell, NY, 78, Retired.
Eloy Garcia (1/27) Maryknoll, NY, 34, Activist. Lawyer. Maryknoll lay missioner.
Marie Salupo (1/27) Maryknoll, NY, 24, Maryknoll lay missioner.
Rev. Clifford Frasier (1/27) New York, NY, 35, United Church of Christ minister. Peace activist.
Marvin Warren (1/27) Poughkeepsie, NY, 21, Student. Anti-globalization & anti-war activist.
Caitlin Harwood (2/10) Cleveland Hts, OH, 19, Anthropology major at the College of Wooster.
Jesse Carr (1/27) Oberlin, OH, 20, Transgender student at Oberlin. Works w/ Sexual Assault Support Team.
Eric Zibbel (1/27) Oberlin, OH, 19, Student at Oberlin College. Works with local social justice groups.
Ann Huntwork (1/27) Portland, OR, 71, Retired medical social worker. Married with six children.
Philip D'Onofrio (1/27) Salem, OR, 35, Veteran. Federal employee. Massage therapist.
Tom Blancato (2/10) Pittsburgh, PA, 40, Newspaper deliverer.
Sr. Mary Hamilton (1/27) Rosemont, PA, 52, Member of Sisters of the Holy Child. Educational center worker.
Katherine Brown (1/27) Providence, RI, 52, Artist. Writer. Teacher.
Judd Schiffman (2/10) Providence, RI, 20, Works with economically underprivileged and disabled children.
Marilyn White (1/27) League City, TX, 55, Presbyterian Elder. Editor of the Houston Peace News.
Sr. Moira Kenny (1/27) McAllen, TX, 56, Sister of Mercy. Paralegal.
James Hynes (1/27) San Antonio, TX, 57, Priest of San Antonio Archdiocese. Catholic pastor.
Pamela McBride (1/27) Sorita, TX , 45, Accountant.
Judith Kelly (2/10) Arlington, VA, 57, Facilitator with nonviolence service. Served in Peace Corps.
Jane Lehr (2/10) Blacksburg, VA, 27, Graduate student.
Patrick Lincoln (2/10) Blacksburg, VA, 21, Senior Spanish major at Virginia Tech.
Jonson Miller (2/10) Blacksburg, VA, 27, Virginia Tech graduate student.
Dave Depp (1/27) Doswell, VA, 66, Retired. Activist.
Thomas Cleary (1/27) Richmond, VA, 84, Volunteer Mexican interpreter. Father, Former Jesuit priest.
Julia Shideler (2/10) Olga, WA, 24, Americorps volunteer.
Mildred Vennessa Pustek (2/10) Premerton, WA, 71, Retired.
Sr. Maureen Newman (2/10) Seattle, WA, 57, Educator.
Katherine Bjorkman (1/27) Burlington, WI, 19, Recent student of Loyola Univ., Chicago. Anti-war activist.
Caryl Hartjes, CSA (1/27) Fond du Lac, WI, 67, Sister of St. Agnes. Employed at Hospice Home of Hope.
William Slattery (2/10) Maribel, WI, 18, Student.
Joyce Ellwanger (1/27) Milwaukee, WI, 65, Retired.
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