Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fr. Louie Vitale & Michael David Omondi Immediately Begin 6 Month Prison Sentences for Ft. Benning Protest

November 24, 2010

Update from the


Nuclear Resister





28 Arrested During Annual Protest Weekend


Four protesters arrested and charged with federal trespass at

Ft.Benning, Georgia on November 20 and 21 were in court on Tuesday,

November 23.  Arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles,

Nancy Smith and Christopher Spicer pled not guilty.  Their trial is

set for January 5.  Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and Michael David Omondi

pled no contest and were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail (no

fine).  Both men are presently in a Georgia county jail.


 Because they may be transferred at any time, cards and letters to

David may be sent to his community for forwarding: The Los Angeles

Catholic Worker, 632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. Louie's

mail may be send to the Nuclear Resister for forwarding at  P.O. Box

43383, Tucson, AZ 85733.  When they reach their final prison

assignment, those addresses will be posted at


The four were arrested at the annual protest and vigil to close the

U.S. Army's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation

(WHINSEC), formerly know as the School of the Americas.


 On Saturday, November 20, 24 others were arrested on city and state

charges, including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and

parading without a permit.  Some were blockading the road leading into

Ft. Benning with a sign that read, "Stop: This is the End of the Road

for the SOA".  People not intending to risk arrest were among those

swept up, including members of the press, protesters walking back to

their cars and a Columbus, Georgia resident who came out of a barber

shop to take a photo of the protest.  There was also at least one

undercover police officer arrested with the protesters but not

charged, who later testified against the group in court.  Legal

observers report that four other people believed to be undercover

officers were apprehended during the chaotic arrest scene on Saturday,

but never brought to jail or charged.


On Sunday, November 21,  Columbus Recorder's Court Judge Michael

Cielinski found 22 of the 24 who were arrested by the city guilty on

all charges. The remaining two were convicted following a bench trial

the next day.  All were released from jail by Monday, with fines and

bonds exceeding $75,000 (which does not include appeals).  They still

must also answer state charges, and expect to be arraigned in January.


Contributions are still needed to help with fines and court costs. For

more information about the Ft. Benning protest, and to contribute to

the legal defense fund, visit



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