Funeral Procession, Civil Disobedience at the gates of Fort Benning
From the Gates of Fort Benning
November 21, 2004

1:15 pm - More than 16,000 people are marching here at the gates of Fort Benning in a beautiful and massive funeral procession led by Martin Sheen, Father Roy Bourgeois, Neris Gonzalez, torture survivors and others. This gathering, our largest and most diverse ever, stretches the length of Fort Benning Road, with thousands holding crosses, stars of David and other symbols of hope and resistance. As musicians sing out the names of victims of the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC), the crowd responds, « Presente! »

Along the procession route, people have begun to transform the fences surrounding the protest site into expressions of hope and remembrance, placing their symbols in and around the new chain-link barriers erected by the city of Columbus and military personnel.

As the front of the procession reached the main gate of the Fort, many mourners dressed in black shrouds and carrying coffins lied on the ground in a die-in commemorating those who lost their lives to graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC. A large Puppet of Mourning accompanied the marchers as they made their way to the gate while the Musicians' Collective read the name of a 7-year-old victim of US foreign military training.

Many people have begun to negotiate the barbed wire fence to enter the military base in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. The « Welcome to Fort Benning Sign » has been transformed by a banner reading « Close the SOA » and decorated with crosses, stars of David and other symbols.

Among those arrested today was Elizabeth Nadeau, 27, a student and member of the Steelworkers Union. Elizabeth was part of a group of people who scaled two barbed-wire fences to cross onto Fort Benning calling for the closure of the SOA. Elizabeth was drawn to participate in this act of conscience, risking up to six months in prison, to be in solidarity with her brothers and sisters in Colombia. Today she remembers Isidrio Gil, a Colombian labor leader killed in 1996, and that one of every four union organizers killed in the world is Colombian.

Watch for more updates soon!

In hope and resistance,
The SOA Watch Media Team


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