Monday, January 30, 2006

School of the Americas: 6 Jailed for Non Violent Protest


From School of the Americas Watch
COLUMBUS, GA The week after a military jury in Colorado decided not to jail an Army interrogator even after they found him guilty of negligent homicide in the torture and killing of an Iraqi detainee, a federal judge in Columbus, Georgia is sentencing nonviolent activists to federal prison.

This morning, Judge G. Mallon Faircloth sentenced six human rights advocates, including an 81-year-old retired man, to between one and three months in prison; five of those individuals were also fined $500. Twenty-six people still face charges, and trials are expected to continue for several days. Each person faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The 32 defendants, ranging in age from 19 to 81, are charged with trespass after peacefully walking onto the Fort Benning military base in protest of a controversial Army training school located there. Those arrested were among 19,000 who gathered in November of 2005 outside the gates of Fort Benning to demand a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the controversial U.S. Army's School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation.


Blogger jsb said...

Off Topic:

"..I do think it would be a mistake by playing into the US' hands here.."

Ah, finally, Matthew admits Castro has made a mistake. Here it is:

While within their rights, why...would Castro find it necessary to block news about the Palestinian elections or other free elections taking place??

10:22 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

Oh, and Reuters was right. You wanna write them another note telling them you were wrong?

10:23 AM  
Blogger Ninja Kitty said...

Since you are a government worker, it seems awfully hypocritical of you to criticize law enforcement for doing their jobs. You are paid by the same "evil machine". It really seems hypocritical, it does. How do you reconcile the demands of being a socialist (communist seems more accurate) while also being an instrument of a capitalist government?

3:05 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Ninja, I have worked the non-profit side of things crituquing things gone wrong all day, and it is depressing and pointless. At least here I am learning how power really works from the inside... and even do some good some days. As someone who believes in the power of Government, I see nothing hypocritical about it. Now if you catch me working for developers or in
real estate, then you'll have a point. The Marxist argument about bureaucracy being pawns to capitalism is true in the abstract, but I spend most my day here battling developers and speculators back and trying to get the people in neighborhoods what they want.

And I certainly will never stop criticizing unjust laws, whatever they may be. Here I am able to do it behind closed doors, or act stragically with community members - and change some things.

J.Scott - I still don't think you can say these poles will be able to "block" much at all - they are 100 yards away. And based on their location, they certainly won't block the view from the Malecon, where they are most visable and many people congregate. I'll reserve my judgement on the Cuban response until it is completed.

7:15 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

It is clearly designed to block it. Any fifth grader could tell you that.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Ninja Kitty said...

Leftside: I think that you make my point exactly. You know that you aren't a bad guy, and you work for the government. So I don't understand why you think that the rest of the government is composed of unthinking drones with the sole goal of oppressing the proletariot masses. I think most people in government are idealogues of one stripe or another, and very few are motivated by a desire to hurt other people.

As far as your post: People routinely protest Fort Benning's "School of Americas", as it is better known as. I am not sure why hippies and the unemployed continue to target it as it's really not that unique of an idea: Train indigenous forces so that we don't have to send US soldiers. It seems like an idea that a leftist could agree with. A friend of mine (yes, believe it or not I am friends with a few select leftists) went to Fort Benning to protest this school. His understanding of its function was very limited and mostly gained through "School of Americas Watch" and such organizations. (I know that it is easier for people to identify with what they view as fellow citizens rather than a monolithic government. But these organizations have an agenda, too, and that is something to remember when you take your "news" stories. The agenda is often far beyond a simple concern for their fellow man.) Anyway, my friend "T" got arrested for trespassing. I expressed concern, thinking that perhaps my friend was mistreated. He informed me that the whole reason he went to Benning was to get arrested, which brings attention to the cause. It was his "sacrifice". He explained that the police, who were very nice to him, showed up and told them that they could peacefully protest as long as they didn't step on the military reservation. If they did, they would be arrested and charged with protesting. Cops still present, he and several other people dutifully crossed the line and were arrested. It is not nearly as dramatic or unfair as these organizations make it out to be.

You might think that you are cleverly outwitting the government, but you are falling right into the hands of an organization that aims, essentially, to undermine US foreign policy. Whoever would want to do that? Think about it.

6:54 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

J.Scott, Any 9th grader that knows about geometry can tell you these flags can do nothing to block the view from about 90% of all possible angles. So if "its clearly
designed to block it" why does it block so little?
Take a look at a more honest photo than the one you've posted:

11:26 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Ninja, you must not know Marxism. We don't think the government bureaucracy is full of oppressors. The game is rigged and all we can do is tweak the knobs, and manage chaos. In my work, I can not even feel good about helping a neighborhood 'improve" as it gets overrun by speculators and flippers, pushing out renters. But what can we do? We have no mechanism to save our cities from traffic, crime, housing costs and pollution. Good people everywhere wallow in Katrina-like ineptitudedue to the worship of the Market over Government.

I understand your point about agendas, but you betray your own with your defense of the (ex) SOA. Even without their esteemed war crime graduates, the torture manuals and the anti-left bias, the SOA under the US military is an excercise in Imperialism. It's ideological assumption is that we either "have to send US soldiers" or train them to do our job is too typical - and something we have dozens of examples of in the last few decades (many very costly). It implies a right to interfere in (leftist) countries when our "interests" dictate.

I respect your friend's sacrifice. Struggles need provacatuers and theatre, along with serious analysis and strategy. Don't you support the Cuban "dissidents" who cross the line of working with the US, against all warning? All the scrutiny of the SOA, which came because all these actions, has made the place much better from what I gather. But this post was not about the SOA, it was about the notion of punishing non-violent protest versus violent compliance.

I didn't understand your last bit... is it disloyal to want to change US foeign policy?

12:14 AM  
Blogger Ninja Kitty said...

First, about your post. The government didn't punish nonviolent protest, and you know that. They punished trespassing. I would honestly advocate that they allow them to protest to their hearts content, just to deny them the opportunity of media exploitation that they get with these press releases. We both know that those people were arrested BY DESIGN of the protesters. Somehow, it is not a very heart rendering situation.

Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with Marxism, which is why I take the time to encourage you to re-evaluate it. Seriously, intellectual snobbery has no place in the blogosphere, and a Marxist should be the last to resort to it (though they are generally the first). My primary point, which you have avoided, is that you are not a socialist, which you list yourself as, you are a communist. I think that you resist the title because you know the bloodshed that it has left in its wake. You have yet to answer my question about why the European models of socialism are unacceptable.

I obviously do have an agenda-- I am pro-US and our form of government. I think that it has problems, most especially in terms of health care, maternity issues, labor laws, etc. I think even staunch Republicans recognize a need for reform in these areas. However, what you suggest at the beginning is revolutionary, that the current system would not support the needs of the average person and that it must be overthrown. Again, I really encourage you to go to nations where this has happened. I have. It really shook me up and did nothing but renew my support for our government. Until you look at a kid whose parents have been murdered for dissent, I don't think that you can understand the sort of pain that your ideas inflict on innocent people. It may seem safe enough, because as a person in the US, no one will take your ideas seriously (sorry cat, but it's true). But lending support to them does nothing but expose more vulnerable people.

1:50 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Walking over a property line is an age-old tactic of non-violence protest. But how do you feel about no jail time for a convicted murderer? There a millions of stories of injustice in our "Justice system."

On pinning down my ideology - I like socialist (or anti-capitalist) - but I'm one who does not worry about these old descriptions. I do believe markets have some relevance. European socialism in Sweeden, Norway and other countries is pretty great.

Latin America is different - because of history and US influence. To break free of the market, one threatens powerful interests directly - oil, resources, US businesses, UN votes, etc. Those interests don't thake to it lying down, even if the impact to the elites is relatively benign, like in Venezuela, where the US "counsels" the opposition to boycott elections and issues rhetoric like yesterday from Rumsfeld (above)...

How do you suppose we deny bogus protesters "media exploitation" in a free, capitalist press; Limit what protests they can write about? The protesters aren't asking for your rendered heart, they want people to think about this school of the assassins our taxes pay for.

Yes I beleive we have to change many aspects of US system. Whether we call that a revolutionary change is just sematics. Whether it's through elections or an overthrow, depends on the desperation of the people.
State (or any) murder is retrograde, but for most of the last 100 years both sides of the "cold war" didn't care about that. I don't know what you've seen in what countries, so I can't comment further, other than saying no one has been killed by Venezuela, nor Cuba in 10 years, except for 3 ferry hijackers. The US on the other hand is at least partially responsible for murder in Haiti, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Grenada, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatamala... victims that all had mothers too. Our disagreement is whether the US Govt. is a force for good any more, particularly in our Hemisphere.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Ninja Kitty said...

If trespassing is an age-old protest tactic, then why feign outrage? That is my point. I don't have to defend the military's idiotic decision to give the Warrant Officer such a ridiculously light sentance for murdering the subject of an interrogation. It's absolutely, batshit insane that they did that. But you can't say, "What's wrong with our legal system?" because the warrant officer was punished under the UCMJ, while your foul smelling friends were punished under USC. They are two different justice systems. It's apples and oranges on every level. I barely consider UCMJ a justice system because I don't think it really qualifies. Any "justice system" that predetermines punishments based on rank (socioeconomic status) rather than the crime isn't legitimate.

I suggest that we prevent hippies from exploiting the media by denying them airtime. In other words, I suggest not arresting them for trespassing. I suggest letting them hang out at the gate of Fort Benning until their unfit little legs give out.

Where do you think that your Latin American heros learn the military tactics that they employed while violently overthrowing their government? Latin American countries have been de facto client states of the US. I personally don't agree with it; ultimately they use it against our interests (as we are seeing now). It's great while it lasts-- it helps their countries economies, usually results in increased cooperation, etc. That's why I am surprised that leftists are against it. It's only afterward, when some lunatic paratrooper (Chavez), who would be nothing but a two bit third world paramilitary thug were it not for the policies that led to the SOA, when Americans reconsider our generosity toward them. Ultimately, leftist, it isn't people like you who pay the price for this cooperation, it is US soldiers who risk being shot at by these people (with American weapons, no less). Your valient Evo, who cares only about his cocoa, would be nothing but an illiterate farmer were it not for our policies.

7:13 PM  

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