Human Rights Activists On Trial for Action at SOA

by SOA Watch Saturday, Jan. 25, 2003 at 7:00 AM 706.221.1672

Defendants Aim to Expose Double Standard in War on Terrorism, Put SOA and US Foreign Policy on Trial

Forty-three human rights advocates will begin trial on Monday, January 27, in Columbus, Georgia for civil disobedience at 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 expose a double standard in the war on terrorism, and to call for the closure of the SOA/WHISC, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. 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 Monday, February 10.

All of the defendants will appear before Judge G. Mallon Faircloth in Columbus.

Defendants Jeremy John and Charity Ryerson appeared in US District Court before Judge Clay Lands on Tuesday. The two were charged with trespass and “destruction of government property” for their action in November 2002. They cut through a padlock in order to open a pedestrian gate in the fence, and then crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the SOA/WHISC. Jeremy and Charity changed their initial plea of “not guilty” to “guilty” in a plea bargain agreement in which the criminal trespass charge was dropped. They now face a year in prison and the $100,000 fine. Their sentencing was postponed pending a pre-sentencing investigation.

“Our aim is to put the SOA/WHISC on trial,” said Jeremy John. “When we take the SOA to trial before an international tribunal and the teachers and students are found guilty, the US will realize the sacrifice that the SOA defendants have made, holding the government accountable for the actions of the US military against people of other nations.”

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…”

Judge Faircloth, who is trying the next two sets of defendants, 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.

"Those who speak out for justice are facing prison time while SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity," said SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

Marie Salupo, a defendant who starts trial on Monday said, “People around the country and the world are rising up and will not be silenced, not even by prison walls, because they are listening to their deepest conscience - a voice that says that war, military aid, and training of foreign militaries who suppress their own people are not the answer.”

The 80 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 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.