Victory: First Amendment Triumph Over Fort Benning

Justice Prevails March on Fort Benning to Protest US Torture Academy Continues

We did it! Fort Benning officials and the Columbus police tried to shut down the November Vigil by attempting to limit the number of participants and by denying SOA Watch a permit to set up a stage and sound system, but justice prevailed. We will return to the gates of Fort Benning from November 21-23. Following a coordinated grassroots pressure campaign, and negotiations with the Columbus Police Department and their team of private and public attorneys, they backed down and ended their efforts to curtail our constitutional rights.

As we continue to organize our 25th Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, we humbly remember that this victory is not ours alone. This victory is also for the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly of countless organizations and communities that dare to speak up and mobilize, and are faced with repression and censorship.

This entire process is a clear example of what our movement can accomplish on many levels, both locally and internationally. Thanks to a letter signed by our friends and human rights defenders throughout Latin America, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, as well as 75 organizational letters of support, a Congressional letter of support signed by 12 Representatives and a petition with 7,000 signatures, we have collectively secured not only our historical and sacred space of convergence to remember the martyrs, but have successfully defended and protected our First Amendment rights! 

So join us this November 21 – 23 as thousands of activists from across the Americas – community leaders, human rights advocates, musicians, migrants, nuns, union workers, torture survivors, veterans, artists, youth and families – converge for the 25th Annual Vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning to call for a closing of the School of the Americas and for an end to the racist system of violence and domination.

Thank you for raising your voice. Thank you for mobilizing. Thank you for being part of this movement. We will only continue to grow stronger and resist in peace in the face of increased repression. See you at the gates.