Nonviolent Protest Will Not Include Police Metal Detectors

2004 Protest at School of the Americas

From November 19-21, 2004: Thousands of protesters will converge on Ft. Benning in Georgia for the annual protest against the School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHISC). For over a decade, students, religious, labor, veterans, human rights, and social/global justice groups have been converging every November at the gates of Fort Benning, GA to speak out in solidarity with the people of the Americas and to engage in nonviolent direct action (Legal info about civil disobedience at this year's protest). This year's protests are viewed as part of the struggle to close the SOA and to change the policies it represents.

This fall, SOA Watch and protesters everywhere won a significant legal battle. On Friday, October 15, 2004, the court ruled unanimously that the Columbus City policy of metal detector searches at checkpoints at SOA Watch protest sites violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. The decision stated that protesters may not be required to pass through metal detectors to enter the rally site. “We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over,” Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote for the three-member court. “Sept. 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country.” SOA Watch says, "Since September 11, we have seen a dramatic increase in attacks on civil liberties, including the unconstitutional limiting of the ability of citizens to peaceably assemble and 'to petition the government for redress of grievances.' This ruling has far-reaching implications and importance not only for SOA Watch but also for all of us struggling to uphold human rights and civil liberties." More info about this case Protest Organizing Info

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