We were small in number but we made our presence known. Upon arriving at our designated vigil site across from the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, site for the Air Force Association hosting some 150 arms contractors at the annual “Arms Bazaar,” we discovered there were no police posted to keep watch over us as in years past. So our community of seven processed to the main entrance of the hotel where AFA members were entering to have their $330 per plate banquet. As some military and weapons contractors were entering, we read our leaflet (see below), sang and vigiled until Gaylord security and local police ordered us to leave or be arrested. Seeing that several of us have cases pending elsewhere and that we did not plan to risk arrest this time, we complied with police. We returned to our regular vigil site and conducted a prayer service to end the use of lethal drones. We also prayed for the elimination of all nuclear and conventional weapons on earth and space and for the abolition of war. We remembered all victims of warmaking, violence and oppression, our beloved peacemaker sister Anne Montgomery who went home to God on August 27, and Troy Davis who was executed last year at this time by the state of Georgia. We also remembered Amber and Kevin Mason (from the DDCW), Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Maia Rodriguez and Becca Polk on trial in D.C. Superior Court for the SOA Watch action last April; Fr. Carl Kabat who is in court today in Kansas City for his July 4 plowshares witness at the new Bomb plant being constructed in Kansas City; the Transform Now Plowshares, including Mike Walli who was present with us; and Susan Crane, in prison for for a probation violation related to her Disarm Now Plowshares action in 2009.
Catholic Workers Among Five Human Rights Activists Facing Trial For Protesting the SOA on Capitol Hill
|Dear friends, Kevin and I will be on on trial next week for protesting the School of the Americas on Capitol Hill with 4 other Human Rights Activists including founder of SOA Watch, Fr Roy Bourgeois. Please share press release below widely. Thanks so much for your prayers, love and your support!
Love, Amber Mason
For immediate release Contact: Hendrik Voss
Media advisory 202.425.5128 firstname.lastname@example.org
School of the Americas Watch www.soaw.org
On April 16, the Activists Were Arrested On Capitol Hill As They Opposed the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) and the militarization of Latin America
At 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, the peace activists will be available to speak with the media. They will then proceed to a trial, which will be held in the DC Superior Court.
Washington, Dc – On April 16, 2012, hundreds of activists marched on Capitol Hill to demand the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC). 13 of these activists were arrested when they attempted to march past the Congressional office buildings, were held for 6 hours by Capitol Hill police, and finally charged with “Blocking Passage.” Five are scheduled to go on trial on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 for engaging in a protest to close the SOA/ WHINSEC on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
The “SOA 5,” a group of human rights activists from different parts of the country, were on Capitol Hill, among hundreds of other activists, to ask Congress to close the SOA and end the militarization of Latin America. As they tried to lead the march down Independence Avenue in front of the Congressional buildings, they were impeded by dozens of police who blockaded their passage. Despite the threat of arrest by the Capitol Hill police, the brave activists insisted to stand for their right of speech.
The defendants are: Amber Mason (26; Washington, DC), Becca Polk (27; Bloomfield, Michigan), Kevin Mason (29; Washington, DC), Maia Rodriguez (24; Arlington, Virginia), & Fr. Roy Bourgeois (73; Columbus, Georgia)
“Militarization in the Americas has increased during the Obama administration, as evidenced by the military coup and the ongoing violence in Honduras, the ever-expanding ‘War on Drugs,’ the continuing murders of unionists in Colombia and the construction of new U.S. military bases throughout the hemisphere,” says Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch and one of the defendants. “It’s time for us to step it up, to get anti-militarization on the national agenda in 2012, and to create alliances to stop ‘teaching democracy’ through the barrel of a gun!”
Amber Mason, one of the defendants, says: “I refuse to be complicit in war and injustice committed by my government in my name and I believe you cannot claim to be for peace and justice unless you are publicly actively against war and injustice. For these reasons, I chose to risk arrest, and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Latin America, and all around the world calling for end to all militarization. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.”
The SOA/WHINSEC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 2009, SOA graduates overthrew the democratically elected government of Honduras. The protest on Capitol Hill was part of a larger effort to increase pressure on President Obama to close the SOA by Executive Order. Ecuador and Nicaragua have recently joined Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia on the decision to remove its troops from the School of the Americas. On September 4, 2012, President Ortega said: “the SOA is an ethical and moral anathema. All of the countries of Latin America have been victims of its graduates. The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror.”