This morning, on On Monday, January 26, 2009, at 9:00 am, six human rights advocates began federal trials for carrying the protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base in Georgia. Each person faces up to six months in prison and a ,000 fine for this act of nonviolent civil disobedience.
The 6 were among the thousands who gathered on November 22-23 outside the gates
of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia to demand a change in U.S.-Latin America
foreign policy and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC. The group peacefully crossed onto
Ft. Benning, site of the school, at the culmination of a symbolic funeral procession in memory of those killed by graduates of the institution.
The "SOA 6" are:
Father Luis Barrios, 56, from North Bergen, New Jersey
Theresa Cusimano, 40 Denver, Colorado
Kristin Holm, from Chicago, Illinois
Sr. Diane Pinchot, OSU, 63, from Cleveland, Ohio
Al Simmons, 64, from Richmond, Virginia
Louis Wolf, 68, from Washington, DC
Fr. Luis Barrios
Father Luis Barrios is the Chairperson of the Department of Latin American & Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-City University of New York and a Board Certified Forensic Examiner with the American College of Forensic Examiners. He is also an Associate Priest at St. Marys Episcopal Church, Manhattan, New York City. Fr. Barrios, as well is a Board Member of Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizing-Pastor for Peace. Professor Barrios is a columnist with El Diario La Prensa and has been honored with the Media Award-2006-GLAAD as an Outstanding Spanish Language Newspaper Columnist and was nominated again in the year 2008. He teaches courses on gangs, criminal justice, cultural criminology, forensic psychology, US foreign policy in Latin America, Puerto Rican Studies, race and ethnicity, and Latina/os Studies.Click here to rwad Fr. Luis Barrios' trial statement
Theresa M. Cusimano, J.D., served as a public interest advocate for twenty years. Her Italian/Irish passion for social justice has led her to work with: the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops on immigration and refugee issues, the federal Department of Education on the Americans with Disabilities Act and more recently with Colorado Campus Compact to support college campus engagement in community problem solving. Cusimano was born in New York, raised outside of Philadelphia and has the joy of living in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. She is both honored and extremely humbled to have participated in nonviolent civil disobedience with her five co-defendants who together, face trial on Monday, January 26th.
Kristin is the third seminary student from Chicago to stand trial for civil disobedience at the WHINSEC vigil in the past five years. The others are Elizabeth Deligio, CTU, 2005; and Le Anne Clausen, CTS, 2008.
On November 23rd, 2008, Kristin Holm, a first year student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), along with five others, entered the base of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperations (WHINSEC), which is a federal offense which carries the possibility of up to six months in prison and a substantial fine.
Sister Diane Therese Pinchot, OSF
Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, second oldest of six children, Diane Pinchot entered the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland after graduating from Villa Angela High School in 1963. She graduated from Ursuline College with a BA in Art Education in 1968 and has been teaching since. Her assignments have included Saint Anns School in Cleveland Heights, Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights and, for the last 26 years, Ursuline College in Pepper Pike. After completing several degrees -- an MALS at Wesleyan University in Conn. concentrating in metals and a terminal degree an MFA in Ceramic Sculpture in 1990 at Ohio University -- the Diocesan Cleveland Mission Team in El Salvador in 1992 asked her to come and help design and build an altar on the spot where the Churchwomen were found in a shallow grave after they were raped and killed. This significant action slowly changed Dianes life and over time the Central American martyrs, especially Dorothy Kazel, a member of the Ursuline community, inspired her to become more active in social justice groups within the community and other national organizations. Her artwork has also reflected this transformation, becoming more narrative and engaging the viewer to question the meaning behind the form. She has exhibited her work internationally, nationally and regionally and has come to realize the sacred connection of justice and art making especially when it is grounded in Peace and Love.