November 23, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) -- Demonstrators renewed their call Sunday to shutter a school on a Georgia Army base for Latin American military and government officials and say they're optimistic the new president or a more sympathetic Congress will act within the next year.
Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who has been leading the demonstrations since 1990, said his supporters view President-elect Barack Obama as the ''president who stands for peace.''
''Our movement has worked hard to get him into the White House,'' Bourgeois said. ''We think it is very reasonable to have a meeting with President Obama.''
Protesters also blame the school for human rights abuses in
Obama could close the school by executive order or Congress could deny funding, a proposal that was narrowly defeated earlier this year, Bourgeois said.
''There is a good possibility we'll shut the school,'' Bourgeois said. ''If we do, we're going to gather here next year for a fiesta.''
Bourgeois has also taken on another cause. He has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican for supporting the ordination of women as priests. But as of Sunday, he was still a man of the cloth, he said.
''I'm waiting to hear from
The protesters, many of them students from as far away as
They cheered an announcement that the crowd had grown to 20,000. But Capt. Mike Massey of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department said deputies had counted about 8,500 entering the area in the morning. Most years, the group and local officials differ on crowd estimates.
Eric LeCompte, an SOA Watch organizer, said six protesters crossed a line on the military base and were arrested.
Juanita Sherba of Canfield,
''We believe that Obama's words are true,'' she said. ''He seems to be a man of conscience and I think he's going to look into the way our government does business and truly make it a democracy again.''
(This version CORRECTS Corrects in last graf to 'conscience')
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs