Many thanks to Cathy Webster for this wonderful report on the 1000 Grandmothers action at the School of the Americas protest. Please be sure to check out the link to their site below to see the beautiful, inspiring poster that is now on their homepage.
Hello Grannies and those with grannie hearts!
Many of you have read or heard about our great successful effort to bring 1000 Grandmothers to SOA. The weekend of November 17-19 was an inspiring example of what ordinary people with consciences and world compassion can effect when they set their minds to it.
I am of the opinion that we have closed the SOA – even Ft. Benning! The gate to the campus of the Army base – wide open during the week – was encased in three successive chain link fences with razor wire over the tops; the bottom of the fences were threaded with cable so they couldn’t be lifted. And the “Welcome To Ft. Benning” sign was completely covered with a heavy brown tarp. Most of this we found on Saturday; the third fence appeared on Sunday morning.
15 of the 16 arrestees, though treated respectfully by the VERY young (I suppose that is relative…) MP soldiers, were released on bail on Sunday, without benefit of the right to appear before a judge for arraignment. Although this was convenient for us, and much more comfortable that spending the night in a cold, dank county jail cell, it was also convenient for Muscogee County, Ft. Benning and the City of Columbus: they did not have to deal with the jail solidarity that always accompanies the overnight incarceration of protesters. Nor did they have to suffer the publicity should there be 1000 grandmothers to jail….One of the arrestees chose to deny bail in solidarity with the poor who cannot afford bail, or have no one to support them. She remains in custody.
Although 1000 grandmothers did not actually cross through the fence, there were thousands of grandmothers at Ft. Benning! Our Tea Party was great fun, with at least 35 states and Puerto Rico represented. Given the many other workshops and activities occuring at the same time, over 200 “grannies” was quite a showing. We had large groups of Grandmothers For Peace, several Raging Grannies groups, Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against The War, Grandparents For Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Code Pink, War Resisters League grannies, Pax Christi Grannies, FOR grannies….
I have counted 57 pairs of booties which were either mailed to me or brought to our Tea Party. All of them are so precious and creative and beautiful! Good job grannies.
If we can get more we can send each member of Congress a bootie. Or, maybe we can send these to the legislators still in office who opposed the amendment to cut funds for SOA.
We had a table at the Saturday rally with a great banner reflecting the words and image on the first of our two art posters. So many people of all ages came by to connect, collect white kerchiefs, pick up material of interest and write notes on hot pink papers to stick on the fence at the gate to Ft. Benning. Grannie helpers appeared to take care of every need we had for making the presence of 1000 grandmothers felt in a very good way. Special thanks to Susie Lawing, Chico; Carol Dutcher, Chico, Nancy Zala, Los Angeles, and Clara Diaz, NY.
On Saturday and Sunday, one of the giant puppets was a white kerchief’d grandmother. Holly Near sang at two benefits for SOA Watch and on the SOAWatch stage on Saturday.
Two grandmothers crossed onto the base: Val Fillenwarth, Indianapolis, and myself, Chico. Thousands crossed in their hearts with us. You can see a great photo of Val, the first to cross, on the front page of the Monday, Nov. 20 Columbus newspaper. Here is the link: (You can also view the multimedia display of the weekend – better than any of us could capture.)
Finally, we had a powerful speaker in Peg McIntire on Sunday. Peg, 96, spoke eloquently of the conviction and soulforce of grandmothers. Thank you, Peg.
Look for further action with 1000 Grandmothers. Bev Rice of Granny Peace Brigade asked us to join GPB for legislative lobbying in February. It can only get better.
There were lots of other stories either featuring, or mentioning 1000 Grandmothers. We’ll try to get the links on the website soon. A great deal of gratitude goes to Sue Hilderbrand, our webmaster, and strategist. Getting the truth about the SOA/WHINSEC to the American public is crucial to closing this school for terrorists. Write to your local papers, and call your representatives.
Paz, amistad, Cathy
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