SOA Watch 2014 Reflection

Nov 21-23, 2014, 12 BVMs and friends were among the human rights activists who converged in Fort Benning, GA for the SOA Watch, calling for an end to militarized state violence in the US and abroad.


Participant and BVM Immersion Grant receipient, Jamie Garcia, reflects on her experience:

Before I left, I told my friends and family I was going to Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in a protest. I anticipated that they would not know that the United States had a training facility in Georgia for foreign soldiers, which includes torture methods. However, I was surprised that they did not believe this facility even existed, and were more worried about me being arrested. 

I had heard about the School of America (SOA) roughly five years ago and had wanted to participate, but timing was always difficult. Now on the 25th anniversary of the protest, I was able to witness, unite my voice in opposition, and elevate my understanding about the school, immigration, and legislative initiatives. 

In addition to the SOA, we protested against the Stewart Detention Center, which is the largest detention center in the United States, and has a 93% deportation rate of immigrants. We walked over 3 miles to and from the detention center with about 1,000 people. 

It is hard to put my finger on what was most meaningful to see. I learned so much that I felt like a sponge the entire weekend. Meeting victims of the detention center, walking with others or “praying with our feet” was a new term I heard, and carrying the cross with the name of a “disappeared” child were a few of the events that are etched in my memory.

I feel blessed that I was able to participate, but saddened for the reason we are uniting in opposition.

—Jamie Garcia