Sunday, February 3, 2008


TRIAL STATEMENT by Joan C. Anderson January 28, 2008
My name is Joan Anderson. My husband is Tom, and we have three daughters, Tara, Katie, and Lisa. I was born and raised in Wyoming. I can go a few miles from my home, turn around in a circle and see the horizon where the land meets the sky in every direction. As a native Wyomingite, space and freedom are very important to me. I love this country.
I’ve had a difficult time writing this statement. The reasons for committing an act of nonviolent civil disobedience that becomes an action for justice are highly personal. The reasons lie deep within my heart and in my gut. It’s greatly about acknowledging the Spirit of God within me.
I have been a public health nurse for 40 years. I am well aware of my rights and responsibilities. I plead GUILTY to “crossing the line” and trespassing on the grounds of Fort Benning on Nov. 18th. It is one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I have never been arrested before nor do I plan on being arrested again. I will honor the Ban and Bar Letter. I am a care-giver for my 88 year old mother and both she and I would prefer that I get probation.
I join the ranks of those who have been here before me and those who are with me today to denounce the well documented atrocities performed by graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC. I am concerned that my taxes and your taxes are keeping this school operational. IT’S TIME TO STOP THE FUNDING NOW! Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that an individual is expressing the very highest respect for law if he breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and accepts the penalty in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice.I come from the same city as the Vice President of the United States. In fact, I was a year behind him in high school. And also living there is a former United States Ambassador to Guatemala in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I find it interesting that they have never been in a courtroom like the one I am in today to answer for the tortures that happened during their watch. I crossed the line nonviolently opposing that torture and I face prison time. And so injustice continues. I am proud and honored to stand in solidarity with the poor and powerless in Latin America who have been and are victims of this flawed U.S. foreign policy. I pray that one day human rights will become a priority in this country. GOD BLESS US


It was 71 days from November 18th to January 28th. Some days it was much longer and other days the time seemed to fly by. But it finally came, as most things do. It was worth waiting for, despite moments of extreme anxiety and down right fear.

I went on trial in federal district court in Columbus, Georgia along with ten other defendants, charged with trespassing onto the grounds of a military installation. The site was Fort Benning, the purpose: to non-violently oppose the School of the Americas, also known as the Western Institute of Security Cooperation. It has a well documented record of training Latin American security personnel in methods of torture. They, in turn, return to their respective countries and many of them make the school proud. We were all charged with a misdemeanor.

We knew, from past experiences with the Judge (G. Mellan Faircloth) that the trial and sentences would be pretty much cut and dried. Some of us pleaded guilty, some non-guilty with stipulations, and one went to trial. I pleaded guilty, because I was guilty and said so. I was allowed to give a statement which I will post on this blog. My sentence was a $500.00 fine and 30 days in prison. As a care-giver for my elderly mother I requested probation. The Judge didn't care much about my situatuion. The other defendants received similar sentences.

To be truthful, I'm glad I got prison time. It's about the only way I can show how strongly I feel about human rights abuses practiced by our government. It's time that regular, normal people like myself stand up to the big powers that be and say, ENOUGH!!!! And my time is now.

And so the waiting begins again. Actually, I'm becoming pretty good at it... Just to let everyone know that I will be back in Columbus in November, to continue demonstrating and working to stop the funding for this school. Please think of me in prison by writing to your congress-person demanding that their vote will be to eliminate this "teaching torture" institution.

Pax Tecum