Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More Ft. Huachuca torture protesters jailed

A Tucson magistrate has jailed an Oregon peace activist and a Franciscan priest from Nevada following their arrest at Fort Huachuca on November 18 for acting against the torture of military detainees. This afternoon at their arraignment in federal court,U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Marshall ruled that because Frances Elizabeth "Betsy" Lamb and Fr. Jerry Zawada had each failed to heed court orders in pending cases in other jurisdictions, they should each be held in custody pending trial. Magistrate Marshall set a detention hearing for both defendants before Magistrate Hector Estrada at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 6, when bail will likely be set.
Lamb and Zawada, together with a third defendant, Mary Burton Riseley of Cliff, New Mexico, entered pleas of not guilty to charges of trespass, conspiracy, and failure to obey an officer. TheirNovember arrest came while 300 people demonstrated outside Fort Huachuca, Arizona, home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School where all Army interrogators are trained. (Fr. Louie Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly were arrested during a similar November, 2006protest at Fort Huachuca, and are currently serving five months inprison for trespass and failure to obey.)
Military prosecutor Capt. Evan Seamone informed the court that at the time of the Fort Huachuca arrests, Betsy Lamb was awaiting trial for a September anti-war protest outside the office of Rep. Greg Walden, in Bend, Oregon. As a standard condition of release on her own recognizance, Lamb had agreed not to commit any other crime while awaiting trial.
Seamone also told the court that among Fr. Zawada's decades' long record of resistance to nuclear weapons and war was an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court for an anti-war arrest in Washington, D.C.
Seamone repeatedly declared that these records of protest and defiance created a "danger to the community" that Lamb and Zawadawould again return to Fort Huachuca. Ignoring the fact that police had barricaded the main gate on November 18 and that a second, nearbygate remained open for the duration of the protest, Seamone said such actions would keep families out of their homes, and ailing veteransfrom medical care. Significantly, Seamone said that more protest threatened to "disable the ability to train" interrogators at FortHuachuca.
These incidents provided sufficient reason for Magistrate Marshall to grant Seamone's motion for pretrial detention ofdefendants Lamb and Zawada. Because Ms. Riseley's record of nonviolent protest did not include any outstanding obligations, she remains free on her own recognizance.
Supporter Jack Cohen-Joppa said, "Today confirms that thereis indeed a price to be paid to preserve whatever virtue this countryhas in the world. People with less of a criminal record than Jerryand Betsy have been held in isolation at Guantanamo under the controlof military intelligence for almost six years now. The three defendants were called by their conscience to speak out against torture. Although they do not desire to spend time in prison, they feel that it is a necessary risk to try to stop brutal and inhumane treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan."
Lamb and Zawada were represented in court by Dan Gregor.Meredith Little represented Mary Burton Riseley.
Fr. Jerry Zawada's statement follows. For more information,visit
Fr. Jerry Zawada prepared the following statement today, but was not permitted to read it in court.
"Judge Marshall, Prosecutor Evan Seamone, all of this courtroom and beyond:"I stand in awe and gratitude to so many who showed me how to live and act in these days - courageous people, some who have already moved on to the other side of this life, who continue to bring to this earth a powerful message of what is needed to be done at this ominous juncture in human history -- a thorough commitment to nonviolence, to a world where people of all backgrounds, nations and ways of life are respected and cherished, people who say NO,absolutely NO, to all forms of torture, all forms of dehumanizing practices, NO to warfare of any kind, certainly to one which isunprovoked and based on falsehood, NO to sanctions which bring about the deaths of thousands of innocents... and YES to the reality that we are to live as one family on this planet."It is on account of the example of these courageous people that I have acted with others to draw attention to what is happening at Ft. Huachuca and its participation in bringing about a regime that condones unmitigated abuse of truth and opens the door to physical and psychological torture and warfare."For this reason, at this time, I refuse to promise that I would refrain from acting (in a nonviolent manner) to take whatever risks needed to stop the warfare and abuse carried on in our name in Iraq and other places of the Middle East and, if the financial means were provided, I would go anywhere to join other people of conscience to change the downward course our nation and its leaders have taken."As a follower of Francis and Clare of Assisi, I long to spread peace, justice and care for all creatures in our earth-home. At the sacred season of ADVENT, it is HOPE that looms large in many a heart-- a good time to spend in or out of prison, if the message of this season becomes reality for a world sickened by violence. Thank you

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