Creating a Culture of Peace offered nonviolence training once again at the annual SOA Watch rally in Columbus, Georgia. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Janet Chisholm and Elliott Adams provided two interactive workshops, introducing active nonviolence to 70 young adults. They described the weekend’s events, including planned civil disobedience, and guided participants in skill-building practice, an affinity group exercise and personal discernment.
Janet is Executive Director of the national CCP training program, an Associate of Veterans for Peace, and past national Episcopal Peace Fellowship Chairperson. Elliott is the past national Chairperson for Veterans for Peace. Both are CCP Lead Facilitators.
Thousands of individuals from across the country attended the weekend. They represented Veterans for Peace, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, various Peace Fellowships, colleges, peace groups, and other organizations. As they have since 1990, they gathered for training, issue workshops, films, music, puppetry, networking and worship. The final procession on Sunday was dedicated to the memory and martyrdom of the hundreds who have been killed by SOA graduates. Four individuals broke federal law by trespassing on the grounds of Fort Benning. Twenty-four others were arrested by local police during a procession on town property.
The goal of the nonviolent witness is to close the U.S. Army’s program at Fort Benning, originally called The School of Americas. Since 1964 the School has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in courses such as counterinsurgency, psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Graduates have been consistently linked to human rights violations and the suppression of popular movements. Training manuals that were used at the School advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.
SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, to close the School and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the SOA represents. It is grateful to sisters and brothers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean for their inspiration and the invitation to join them in the struggle for economic and social justice. www.soaw.org
Janet Chisholm, 11/23/10