~ From Fr. Louis Vitale, written at the Irwin County Detention Center, Georgia

photo by Cindy Callahan

December 8, 2010


by Fr. Louis Vitale

Two weeks have passed since David Omondi and I began our sojourn here at Irwin County Detention Center in southern Georgia.  Some may say, “Vitale has protested himself back into the pokey below the Mason-Dixon line” and “He has been jailed again in an effort to bring peace and social justice.”  SF Chronicle 11/28

Many ask, “Why do you keep doing this?”  We try to respond:  “Because the oppression goes on and our nation is a major participant in that oppression of the poor and of all creation.”  Specifically this manifestation of mourning focuses on the School of the Americas (WHINSEC) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where U.S. military have taught counter-insurgency techniques, including torture and disappearance, to Latin American military.  It still goes on, as recently observed with the outrageous coup in Honduras carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas.  In fact, our involvement in oppressive militarism extends throughout the world!

But why so many times at Ft. Benning (my fourth arrest and incarceration, and so far from my home base)?  The School of the Americas is an icon of our intrusion into developing countries over many years and the source of horrific massacres including religious leaders and thousands of peasants.  Also Ft. Benning is a major military base feeding vast numbers into the war machine.  Thousands gather annually to mourn the victims and to call for an end to our war machine that continues to grow into more bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing facilities, even into space war (and the new X-37B militarized version of the space shuttle).

Are we ready to declare peace and act in its presence?  Let’s call – with all our energy – for nonviolent solutions now, transforming many peoples’ lives and our world.  Our work is cut out for us as we must be vigilant and active with nonviolent resistance.  May we move towards peace in the new year.

[Vitale, serving a 6 month sentence for trespass at Ft. Benning, was moved from the Irwin County Detention Center and is currently in transit.  Check here for addresses to write notes of support to him and other anti-war and anti-nuclear prisoners.]