71-year-old nun protester jailed

American Sr Sheila Salmon will go to jail later this month after being convicted of trespassing at the site of the notorious former School of the Americas whose graduates tortured and killed scores of people including four US church women.

"I'm not afraid," Sr Salmon told the Cleveland Plain Dealer during a telephone interview on Monday from her home in Florida. "I'm not looking forward to it. But I'm peaceful about it."

Sr Salmon, a nurse and missionary, was among 16 protesters arrested at the fort in November during a demonstration by thousands of people calling for the closing of a military training school.

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of Americas, trains civilians, police officers and soldiers from other nations. Activists have long alleged that graduates have killed and tortured people in Latin America.

"They have killed thousands of people," said Salmon, noting the rapes and slayings of four church women, including two from Cleveland - Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun, and Jean Donovan, a Catholic lay worker. "It's all well documented."

For the past 18 years, protesters have converged on the fort the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This year was Sr Salmon's ninth protest. It was the first time she trespassed.

"I said to myself, 'It's time for me to take a different stance for justice,' " she said. "I talked to my community about it and I had their backing."

In an act of civil disobedience, she and 15 others crawled through a hole in a fence surrounding Fort Benning and were immediately handcuffed and arrested.

Sr Salmon who previously worked at a hospice for AIDS patients is now retired though she still does community outreach and hospice work.

She is to report to a federal prison next Tuesday. She hopes to be released 25 July.

When asked whether she will return to Fort Benning for the November protest, she said, "Yes. But I'm not going through the fence again. Enough of that."

Nun will go to jail for protest (Cleveland News, 10/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation (Wikipedia)
Dorothy Kazel (Wikipedia)
Ita Ford (Wikipedia)
Jean Donovan (Wikipedia)
Maura Clarke (Wikipedia)

Record crowd calls for US military school closure (CathNews, 21/11/06)
El Salvador ex-solder convicted in Jesuit murders arrested in US (CathNews, 27/10/06)

11 Apr 2007