Judge Faircloth Change of Heart?
Michael Walli Released from Jail!
Today, only three days after he was sentenced to six months of federal prison for carrying the protest against the School of the Americas onto Fort Benning, Michael Walli was released from jail.
Early Thursday, Michael was ordered to pack up his belongings from his jail cell. He expected that he would be transferred to a federal facility but was then told by the wardens that he is free to go, without any further explanation.
From the jail, Michael managed to get to Father Roy Bourgeois’ apartment at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia. The two celebrated his release and Michael is now on a bus headed to his home in Washington, DC.
According to the Columbus Ledger Enquirer, U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth, who had only days ago handed down the maximum sentence to Michael, reduced Michael’s sentence to time served.
We are full of joy that Michael is out and that he will soon be reunited with the great folks at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in DC. At the same time, the human rights defenders Ken Hayes, Father Louis Vitale and Nancy Gwin, all of whom were arrested with Michael during the 2009 vigil at the SOA/WHINSEC, remain in federal prison where they serve their harsh prison sentences.
Please contact Judge G. Mallon Faircloth to commend him for doing the right thing in Michael Walli’s case and to also demand the release of ALL Prisoners of Conscience that he incarcerated. There is no justification that our friends Nancy, Ken, and Louis are spending their days and nights in prison for speaking out against the SOA, while those responsible for the training of human rights abusers and for the use of torture manuals at the SOA have never even been investigated:
G. Mallon Faircloth
U.S. Magistrate Judge
Post Office Box 117
Columbus, GA 31902-0117
Terrie Smith – (706) 653-2942
Please also send messages of support to the Prisoners of Conscience who are still incarcerated in federal prisons across the United States and let them know that you are keeping up the work to close the School of the Americas and to change U.S. foreign policy! You can find their prison addresses here: http://soaw.org/about-us/pocs/150-articles/3421-write-to-the-soa-watch-prisoners-of-conscience
Consider engaging in nonviolent direct action:
Keep the pressure on! People who put their bodies on the line to speak in solidarity with the people of Latin America are crucial in the struggle to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.
Stand up for justice at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia in November:
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|The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,” is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. |
Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA, frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins,” has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.
Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.