November 24, 2010 by tristan savage
Katy and I just returned to Nashville after a several-day journey back from Columbus, GA, where Katy was arrested and held for 32 hours by the Columbus police when they attacked a group of us at the yearly vigil to close the School of the Americas.
The School of the Americas is a training camp run by the US Army for Latin American soldiers, in which training includes techniques for kidnapping, assassination, and torture. SOA graduates who return to their countries have gone on to murder thousands of their own citizens, detain many more, and in more than a few cases (including the recent military coup in Honduras in 2009) overthrow their civilian governments to establish military dictatorships. The School of the Americas Watch is a network of solidarity activists who reject this violence done in our name and with our money, and are working for the closure of the SOA.
24 people, including Katy, were arrested while leaving the protest and held on extremely high bail (averaging about $5000). Judge Michael Cielinski, after declaring to the court that his purpose was to “separate the wheat from the chaff”, found 23 of the 24 guilty on all counts (typically, “picketing” and “demonstrating without a permit”), and the total of bonds and fines exceeds $75,000 (which does not include appeals). The judge made these decisions even after multiple police officers testified in court that most of those arrested had broken no laws and some were even arrested entirely by accident.
From SOA Watch, as of Monday morning:
We have seen extraordinary solidarity in our movement in raising the money needed through loans and donations to release everyone arrested. People were trickling out of the jail until 4am this is morning. We have been able to raise close to $30,000 in an extremely short amount of time. This is unprecedented for SOAW. We are so grateful for both the people present here in Fort Benning, and our network across the Americas where donations and loans have been pouring in to ensure the speediest release for the arrestees.
We encourage you to help spread the word to ensure the people who put themselves on the line are taken care of by our community. Please donate here. We still desperately need to pay back our loans and raise additional money that will be needed for the state charges and court fees.
We will post a more detailed update soon with Katy’s story, but we hope you can join us in supporting our fellow prisoners and activists in this unprecedented wave of repression against peace activists.