By Brenda Norrell, Censored News http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/
Photo Fort Huachuca torture protest 2009/Photo Brenda Norrell
It is bittersweet to hear that Fr. Louie Vitale is once again in prison. Now, at the age of 77, prison must be hard for him. I think of all these people who go to prison to expose and call for a halt to US torture. I remember Louie's gentleness and kindness at federal court in Tucson, as he faced prison in 2007, for stepping across the line at Fort Huachcua in Arizona, to bring attention to the US Army Intelligence Center's role in the torture at Abu Ghraib. That time he was sentenced to prison with Fr. Steve Kelly.
Steve was in prison before that, for literally beating a 'weapon into a plowshare,' some sort of nuclear weapon. I found voluntary imprisonment very hard to understand. I asked Steve how he spent his time and how bad it was. Steve said he continues his resistance in prison, refusing to go along with the rules. So he is placed in solitary confinement. So, I asked, how does he get through it. "Oh, there's never enough time," he said enthusiastically, explaining that he has so many letters to write and there's his reading, and prayers and all. I asked him if they gave him paper for letters, and he said he makes do with the margins of the letters he is sent.
During that time, Col. Ann Wright was there as well, the brave woman whose military service did not prevent her from being a voice of truth. Her voice against US torture led to her being denied entrance into Canada.
That year, 2006, I did not go with my friends to Fort Huachuca to face off with the military and to protest US torture. It sounded like pretty risky business when you don't have a quarter or a lawyer to call. But this November, I did join them. Govinda from Earthcycles and I provided video coverage on the web of the protest and the arrests. We stood a few steps away and watched those brave men and one young woman cross the line onto Fort Huachuca to bring attention to US torture.
I was a few steps away from those arrested, but miles away from those who voluntarily spend time in prison, and solitary confinement, to expose US torture.
So today, I offer a salute to Louie, Steve and all the others who peacefully walk across those lines and into prison to say 'No more torture and No more deceit.'
The School of the Americas, where Louie's protest gained him his current prison sentence, is where the US has long trained military torturers for Central and South America. Indigenous Peoples were tortured, raped, mutilated, disappeared and murdered by these torturers trained by the US, as their lands were stolen, their crops burned and their children stolen. Some of those who fled those torturers were rescued by the underground railroad of the Sanctuary Movement in Tucson in the '70s and '80s. Fort Huachuca was where the School of Americas torture manual was produced, according to the US.
So I write this now to let everyone know that hope is indeed still alive. There are still heroes out there, heroes who peacefully cross those lines, take the risks, and go to prison for the sake of humanity.
Thank you to each of you. --Brenda Norrell
SOA Protesters Sentenced to Prison: http://www.unobserver.com
Torture on Trial: Arrests for protesting torture training at Fort Huachuca:
Earthcycles web videos: http://www.livestream.com/earthcycles.net
UPDATE: Yesterday, January 26, Louie was transferred to the Crisp County Jail. His address, to write a note of support:
Crisp County Detention Cener
196 South Highway 300
Cordele, GA 31015
It's possible he might be transferred again, given his six month sentence. If your letter to him is returned, you can send it c/o The Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733, and we will forward it to him.
For more information about supporting prisoners of conscience Louie Vitale, Nancy Gwin and Ken Hayes by helping to close the SOA/WHINSEC, go to http://soaw.org/. (Nancy and Ken will go to prison at a later date, still to be determined.)
Felice and Jack
the Nuclear Resister
"a chronicle of hope"
Jack & Felice Cohen-Joppa, editors
P.O. Box 43383
Tucson AZ 85733