Constitutional Rights Under Attack in Georgia
Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch
July 22, 2014 | The Columbus Police Department, continuing its history of antagonizing the movement to close the US military training camp known as the SOA/WHINSEC (School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), has this year placed unjust, unsafe and unconstitutional restrictions on the annual SOA Watch Vigil, essentially attempting to shut down the peaceful protest at the main gates of Fort Benning.
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In a letter to grassroots solidarity group SOA Watch, Police Chief Ricky Boren explained that the thousands expected at this year’s Vigil, the group’s 25th, would have to somehow limit themselves to no more than 200 and stay on sidewalks five feet back from the street. The permit for the stage and sound, which has for years lifted up the voices of those targeted by the infamous military training school, like Padre Melo from Honduras, who’s been threatened since speaking out against the SOA graduate-led coup in 2009, was also denied.
Hendrick Voss is SOA Watch’s communications coordinator.
SOA Watch, founded by Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois in 1990, is an independent organization that seeks to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.