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.