Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fr. Vitale going to jail again, while torturers remain free

Fr. Vitale has spent his life protesting the nuclear industry, including the nuclear test site on Western Shoshone lands, and torture training at Fort Huachuca. While he goes to jail one more time, the torturers remain free

November 24, 2010 Update from the Nuclear Resister


28 Arrested During Annual Protest Weekend

Four protesters arrested and charged with federal trespass at Ft. Benning, Georgia on November 20 and 21 were in court on Tuesday, November 23. Arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles, Nancy Smith and Christopher Spicer pled not guilty. Their trial is set for January 5. Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and Michael David Omondi pled no contest and were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail (no fine). Both men are presently in a Georgia county jail.

Because they may be transferred at any time, cards and letters to David may be sent to his community for forwarding: The Los Angeles Catholic Worker, 632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. Louie's mail may be send to the Nuclear Resister for forwarding at P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733. When they reach their final prison assignment, those addresses will be posted at

The four were arrested at the annual protest and vigil to close the U.S. Army's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly know as the School of the Americas.

On Saturday, November 20, 24 others were arrested on city and state charges, including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and parading without a permit. Some were blockading the road leading into Ft. Benning with a sign that read, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA". People not intending to risk arrest were among those swept up, including members of the press, protesters walking back to their cars and a Columbus, Georgia resident who came out of a barber shop to take a photo of the protest. There was also at least one undercover police officer arrested with the protesters but not charged, who later testified against the group in court. Legal observers report that four other people believed to be undercover officers were apprehended during the chaotic arrest scene on Saturday, but never brought to jail or charged.

On Sunday, November 21, Columbus Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski found 22 of the 24 who were arrested by the city guilty on all charges. The remaining two were convicted following a bench trial the next day. All were released from jail by Monday, with fines and bonds exceeding $75,000 (which does not include appeals). They still must also answer state charges, and expect to be arraigned in January.

Contributions are still needed to help with fines and court costs. For more information about the Ft. Benning protest, and to contribute to the legal defense fund, visit

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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