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SOA protest...success or sham? The forgotten story...

To members of SOAWatch: please openly dispel rumors that you have swept this story under the carpet in order to maintain positive relations with columbus police, perserve the $1.5 million dollar flow of yearly SOA protest/tourist revenue, and wipe clean any dirty little acts that might otherwise tarnish you clean, packaged, purely symbolic protest.
by S. Al Maneer and W. Goodwin 1:52am Mon Nov 20 '00
phone: (678) 480-7677 warren (at)

11-18-00 Three children, aged 13, 14, and 17 were kidnapped by Columbus police after being told they would *not* be arrested for trying to leave Fort Benning.

Harassment and Interrogation Follow

This morning, local Columbus youth were singled out, kidnapped, interrogated and threatened by Columbus Police during the second wave of the School of the Americas Funeral Procession.
The three young men, Kevin Ravenell and Terence and Travorus Walker are residents of the apartments located directly outside the gates of the Ft. Benning base.
Drawn by the massive numbers, music and festivities outside their home, the three youth came out onto the street to check out the scene. They soon joined the puppeteers and proceeded to lead the parade across the line. This second procession, composed of the Columbus youths, gigantic puppets, Radical Cheerleaders, anarchists, drummers and others walked ½ mile into the base and joined the 3400 participants in the “Presente” procession already deep within the base. The motley parade then crossed the median, climbing to the outbound lane of Ft. Benning Rd. The young men, fearing they would be arrested if they continued forward and up the hill, opted to instead remain with the main procession.
Approximately an hour later, the youth decided to return. They had been told, as had all the protestors, that if they turned around and walked out the way they came they would *not* be arrested. They followed many other small groups of protestors, singing and rapping anti-SOA chants that they had learned and created. As the three approached the gate and were about to exit Ft. Benning and cross back over the line, they were apprehended by a City of Columbus police officer. They were immediately ordered to get on the ground. They were forced to lie on their stomachs in large mud puddles (this after close to two hours of standing in the rain on a bitterly cold day). They were then moved to a police car and taken miles away to the police station.
During the ride the police refused to answer the youths’ questions about what would happen to them and told them to “shut the fuck up”.
In the police station the youth were interrogated and then isolated. The officer demanded to know if they knew what they were protesting to which one youth replied, “Y’all teachin’ people how to kill- then they go back to the countries and try to dictate.” The officer proceeded to tell them that this was incorrect and that in fact, “This is the kind of stuff you could get killed doing.” The youth were then threatened with being sent to the Youth Detention Center for participating in this action.
Two other local youth, who had gone into Ft. Benning to watch the parade were brought into their cell before all five were released. Rather than being dropped off at a park like all other protestors, these youth were dismissed from the police station, miles from their home. Ultimately one of their older siblings was able to pick them up.
The experience of these three young Columbus residents raises a number of questions: Why were hundreds of out-of-town vigil participants permitted to freely walk out of Fort Benning and these three seized? Why were they taken to a police station rather than the typical processing center set up by the military? Why were they forced to lie on the cold wet ground? What the hell was the Columbus PD doing interrogating and threatening children without their parents present? Why were they cursed at?
It may be that the police are trying to send a message of intimidation to the residents of Columbus in hopes of preventing their involvement in the SOA Watch movement. Certainly Columbus residents will see through this tactic and name it as the profiling and obstruction of basic rights that it truly is.



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