Activists Face Six Months in Prison, Federal Trial in Georgia

Close SOA
World Can't Wait received this from SOA Watch:

Tomorrow, on January 5, 2011, SOA Watch activists Nancy Smith from New York and Chris Spicer from Illinois will appear in federal court in Columbus, Georgia to stand trial for crossing the line during the 2010 November vigil to close the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). The two carried the protest against the SOA atrocities onto the Fort Benning military base and now face up to six months in federal prison for their courageous act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Nancy and Chris will use the courtroom to put the SOA itself on trial and to take a stand against the SOA, torture, militarization and oppressive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

The presiding judge, Stephen Hyles, sentenced two other human rights advocates last November to the maximum allowed prison sentence for the same action. Father Louis Vitale and David Omondi, who also crossed onto the base during the November vigil are each currently serving six months prison sentences.

Please write to our Prisoners of Conscience David and Father Louis and send Nancy and Chris good thoughts, strength, courage and love as they speak truth to power in the Georgia Middle District Court tomorrow.

Download the SOA Watch Media Release about the January 5, 2011 trial.

UPDATE:

Justice Denied: Activists Imprisoned, SOA Remains Open
Federal Judge sentences SOA Watch activists to six months in prison

Once again, the justice system's complicity with the abuses taught at the School of the Americas was exposed yesterday at the trial of anti-militarization activists Nancy Smith and Chris Spicer. Nancy, from New York, changed her plea to no contest and was immediately sentenced to 6 months in prison by Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles. In the SOA Watch tradition of using the court to put a spotlight on the SOA/WHINSEC, Nancy affirmed that she “felt a strong moral imperative” to carry out her nonviolent act of civil disobedience “on behalf of those who have suffered so terribly”.

Chris, from Illinois, plead not guilty but was declared guilty by Judge Hyles and sentenced likewise to 6 months. In his closing statement before sentencing, Chris addressed the ongoing human rights abuses in Latin America carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas, and his need to confront the “paralysis of fear” that has gripped the country in recent times.

In November, Franciscan priest Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and David Omondi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Community both pled no contest and were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail.

The decision by Judge Hyles to impose the maximum penalty for a nonviolent act of civil disobedience exposes the political nature of the trials and the justice system. However, we take the energy of Nancy, Christopher, David and Louis, along with the thousands of our brothers and sisters who have been massacred, raped, tortured and disappeared in their fight for a culture of peace with justice, and we will continue to move forward. We hope to see you all in Washington, DC, in April to bring the fight to close the SOA and end US militarism to the doorsteps of our policy makers.

The struggle is long, but we will prevail!

Nancy Smith gave an interview to Tamar Sharabi following Father Louis' trial in November in front of the courthouse in Georgia: Click here to watch video.

Current Updates on Nancy and Chris:
Nancy and Chris have now been transferred to the Irwin County, GA detention center where they will remain until further notice. Nancy can be written at the following address:

Nancy H. Smith
#7059
Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Drive
Ocilla, GA 31774

Chris can be written at the following address:

Christopher Spicer
#7060
Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Drive
Ocilla, GA 31774

Click here for tips about how to write to prisoners of conscience.

We are not sure how long they will be there or when they will be transferred. Please be sure to check the webpage for the current addresses of Nancy and Chris.

Main Calls to Action Activists Face Six Months in Prison, Federal Trial in Georgia

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.