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Sunday, 11/17 - SOA Update: 50 Protesters Arrested at Fort Benning So Far

Led by the example of five elderly nuns, 50 protesters have been taken into custody so far by military authorities for entering Fort Benning in a nonviolent action calling for the closure of the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Co-operation - formerly the School of the Americas - but known to its opponents as the "School of Assassins" (SOA).

Shortly after the beginning of the traditional funeral procession to the gates of Fort Benning, a group of five elderly nuns made their way through thick underbrush around the perimeter fence and entered the base. Once inside, the group planted crosses emblazoned with the names of victims of SOA graduates. The group then proceeded to the roadway inside the main gate where they were plasticuffed and arrested. Their action was greeted by cheers and hymns sung by crowds of protesters lining the perimeter fence.

Other quickly followed their example. Two protesters were arrested when they used chain cutters to cut a padlock off a small side gate in the fence and entered the base. A third was arrested outside the base when he picked up the chain cutters, which had fallen to the ground. He was then taken by force onto the base and arrested.

Other protesters continued to make their way onto the base, following the trail blazed by the nuns, in groups as small as three and as large as thirteen people of various ages. Three protesters engaged in nonviolent resistance by lying on the ground until soldiers carried them away on stretchers.

At one point the protesters kneeled in the roadway inside the gates with their hands cuffed behind their backs and appeared to pray in full view of the demonstrators outside. Shortly thereafter the military hustled them aboard waiting buses, possibly to dampen the effect of their actions on the crowd massed outside the gates.

As of this writing, some fifty protesters have been arrested for entering Fort Benning.

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