The Coastal Post - December, the six-day event.

Marinites Arrested For Protest On Army Schools Of Americas

By Submission

Don Beck of San Rafael, Ruth Downing of Mill Valley, and Karen Klingel of San Anselmo were among the 542 protesters arrested November 16 as they sought to deliver petitions with more than 100,000 signatures calling for the closing of the U.S. Army Schools of the Americas. They and Lillie and Peter Anderson of Corte Madera, who served as their support team, are all members of the Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America.

Pall bearers led the procession with eight coffins holding the petitions, and lines of mourners followed with crosses bearing the names of SOA victims. November 16 marks the eighth anniversary of the brutal massacre of Jesuits in El Salvador. Nineteen of the 26 Salvadoran officers cited for the massacre in the United Nations Truth Commission report were trained at the School of the Americas. The protesters wish to close the school down.

A recently-released Inspector General's report criticized the School for inadequate oversight of training materials. The IG investigation was ordered after the Department of Defense released the content of seven Spanish-language SOA manuals that condoned torture, blackmail and assassination.

The School, training between 900 and 2,000 soldiers a year, has been nick-named the School of Assassins by its opponents because its graduates repeatedly have been linked with assassinations and other human rights abuses in Latin America. To date, critics have documented that one in every 100 SOA graduates has been involved in human rights abuses, drug trafficking, or other criminal activity. Graduates of SOA made up over two-thirds of the Salvadoran officers cited for atrocities during El Salvador's bloody repression.

In September, by a vote of 210 to 217, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly defeated an attempt to cut SOA funds. Legislative efforts to close the School will continue into 1998. Two bills are pending: HR 611, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (MA), and D 980, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (IL).

The arrestees were detained on the Ft. Benning base, cited for criminal trespass, and released the evening of November 16.

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