SOA Watch protests WHINSEC at Fort Benning - WRBL

SOA Watch protests WHINSEC at Fort Benning

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Once again, thousands of people gathered outside Fort Benning Saturday for the annual School of the Americas Watch protest. The group is calling for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC. The group claims the school has caused thousands of needless deaths in Latin American countries.

For the 23rd straight year, crowds gathered at Fort Benning taking a moment of silence, and kept outside of the post by security gates to protest the training of foreign soldiers which the group claims has led to genocide in several Latin American countries.

"To think that the training is here in America, and our tax dollars go to something like this. It's just an injustice that we're supporting and a lot of people don't even know that they're supporting it," said JeNay Smith.

The School of the Americas was founded in 1946 but closed in the year 2000 reopening under a new name, WHINSEC, in 2001. Since its resurgence, representatives say the school teaches professional education and leadership development.

"We teach according to U.S. doctrine. We teach information legally, morally, and ethically," said Lee Rials, public affairs at WHINSEC.

But the opposition said they're not buying it.

"You don't teach democracy behind the barrel of a gun. You don't teach democracy behind a fence that says no trespassing," said Roy Bourgeois, founder of the SOA Watch.

The consequences for crossing the gate is a fine or imprisonment but many at the protest are willing to take that risk. Nashua Chantal has been arrested 2 times for crossing over the fence into Fort Benning, but he said it's necessary to promote their message.

"They dig deeper. As well our stories reach around the world and this is why we do it," said Chantal.

Rials at WHINSEC said the school isn't hiding anything and is always open to visit. He said the goal of the program is simple.

"The openness, transparency, and development of relationship both with the U.S. and among countries that are there," said Rials.

The SOA Watch will continue to protest at Fort Benning until WHISEC is closed. Sunday, they will participate in a mock funeral procession to commemorate what they call the victims of U.S. militarism.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    Monday, July 21 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-07-21 22:37:35 GMT
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Columbus police searching for armed robbery suspect

    Columbus police searching for armed robbery suspect

    Monday, July 28 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-07-28 14:09:36 GMT
    Columbus police need your help identifying a man who they say robbed two businesses Saturday evening. They say a black man was wearing all black but no mask when he pulled a silver handgun on the cashier at Weems Food Mart on Weems road just around 7 p.m. Saturday night.
    Columbus police need your help identifying a man who they say robbed two businesses Saturday evening. They say a black man was wearing all black but no mask when he pulled a silver handgun on the cashier at Weems Food Mart on Weems road just around 7 p.m. Saturday night.
  • Update: Kellogg's plant to close by end of 2015, company responds

    Update: Kellogg's plant to close by end of 2015, company responds

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:11 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:11:13 GMT
    The Columbus Kellogg's plant is expected to close by the end of 2015.The Columbus Kellogg's plant is expected to close by the end of 2015.
    The Columbus Kellogg's plant is expected to be shut down by the end of 2015.
    The Columbus Kellogg's plant is expected to be shut down by the end of 2015.
  • Continuous News DeskMore>>

  • Free school supplies to be given away at Back to School Bash

    Free school supplies to be given away at Back to School Bash

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:33 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:33:55 GMT
    A Back to School Bash is being held for students.
    A Back to School Bash is being held for students.
  • AL animal shelters struggling with funds

    AL animal shelters struggling with funds

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:20 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:20:24 GMT
    Some of Alabama's animal shelters are struggling because of funding problems.
    Some of Alabama's animal shelters are struggling because of funding problems.
  • LaGrange police searching for shooting suspects

    LaGrange police searching for shooting suspects

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:11 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:11:53 GMT
    LaGrange police are searching for two suspects in relation to a shooting.
    LaGrange police are searching for two suspects in relation to a shooting.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.