12/7/02 9:06:07 PM Pacific Standard Time

I've seen other reports that corroborate this.  Disturbing is putting it mildly, but not surprising in light of "Patriot" and "Home Security"
- did people honestly think they weren't serious?

Nobody said it would be easy, and that's not something Americans are used to.

> Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 15:17:52 -0600
> Subject: Re: Letter from someone who stepped across the line at the
> School of the Americas.
> Gladys Schmitz wrote:
> I received this from Sister Dorothy.  She is a member of St. Stephens
> church in Minneapolis; the writer of the following letter, Jack Neis,
> is also a member of her church.  It is good for us to know.  Gladys
> *******************
> My dear friends:
> I was arrested last weekend during a demonstration in Columbus,
> Georgia protesting the existence of the School of the Americas; a
> school that is the symbol of the worst in this country's foreign
> policy.  I will most probably receive a six month sentence in federal
> prison.  Kate and I are adamant opponents of this school, as most of
> you know. HOWEVER.  This missive is not about the school.  It is
> about my experience the last few days: it is about the erosion of
> civil rights.  I would appreciate your attention.  I think that you
> will find it interesting.
> I was one of those fortunate to be in the company of the people
> who "crossed the line" during the School of the Americas Watch /SOAW
> demonstration at Fort Benning.  The charge we were arrested for is
> trespassing. No property damage.  No violence.  No threats.  It is a
> Petty misdemeanor.  In some states a petty misdemeanor is not even
> legally considered a crime.
> In the past, violators of this ordinance, including
> repeat "offenders" were processed, arraigned immediately and released
> on their own recognizance until their trial months later.  Everyone
> knew that they could, and repeaters expected that they would, receive
> a prison sentence. This year things were a bit different.
> As usual, our group of ninety-odd included some seniors.  (well into
> the seventies).  Keep them in mind as I continue. We were cuffed with
> plastic ties behind our backs, and taken to a processing area.  We
> were interrogated (no Miranda), printed, and photoed.  At this point
> we expected to be quickly ! arraigned, and released.
> We were then turned over to the USMarshal service.  Again we were
> interrogated, fingerprinted and photoed.
> Now it starts getting ugly.
> (Remember: NONVIOLENT PETTY MISDEMEANOR and we have not been
> convicted: therefore assumed not guilty of even this charge.  We can
> be HELD (not punished) for up to forty-eight hours.) They put us in
> SHACKLES and LEG CHAINS for transportation to the Muskogee County
> jail. Shackles are those things where your hands are locked in a
> fixture at your waist fastened to a chain around your waist that you
> see on serial killers.  With leg chains you have to shuffle to walk.
> At the jail, everything was taken from us, and we were issued prison
> uniforms (short sleeved pajamas), one blanket, a towel, and a plastic
> cup.  Again we were interrogated, printed and photoed.  (No Miranda)
> Muskogee County has just dedicated a new jail.  Apparently there was
> no room in the new section: they led us back to the old jail
> for "holding".  It was dirty, rusty, and COLD.  We wore our blankets
> constantly to keep warm.  The blanket was just barely long enough to
> cover for sleeping. "Breakfast" was at 4:20 AM, and the "food" was
> despicable.
> During the entire time we were incarcerated, requests for medication
> were ignored.
> All day Monday and Tuesday, the 34 men spent the entire day in a 12 x
> 15 room as we awaited arraignment.  Picture that. The women spent the
> day in a similar room.  There were a lot more of them.
> I was raised upper middle class, went to a parochial grade school,
> Jesuit Prep high school, and Notre Dame University.  I spent five
> years in the Air Force as a flight instructor.  Beginning my career
> at Northwest Airlines, I was pretty much sure about everything in
> life, as would most given that experience.
> Then I was laid off (it turns out for almost nine years.)  Given the
> job opportunities in 1970, I ended up driving a city bus
> inMinneapolis.  Those 3+ years gave me the greatest part of my
> education.  I learned about the lives of real folks.  I got to know
> the poor, the black and the red, and the unemployed.  I learned that
> I really hadn't known much at all about people. This experience in
> jail was another such step.  My fellow cellmates included priests,
> college professors, students, Catholic Worker volunteers, and even a
> couple who call themselves "full time activists".   You know, "those"
> people.
> What a marvelous and diverse group of men!!!!!!  I was humbled by
> their experiences, and their lives of dedication to their fellow
> human beings.  As I was sitting Sunday night with some of them;
> feeling the cold and the separation, my stomach twisted in a knot
> mostly from an ignorance of what was to come, I looked up and said,"
> I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be right now than right here."
> We sang together, we "mantra"ed together in that crowded little room,
> slowly walking around in single file as we intoned for the better
> part of half an hour.  We could hear through the walls the women
> singing loudly.  We prayed together, we joked and we talked.  I was
> in awe Considering my puny contributions to humanity, I felt somewhat
> undeserving to be in their company.
> The court arraignments dragged on.  Although some of us made personal
> statements, I believe most of them were shorter than a minute.  There
> was a constant repetition of our "rights" and the charges against
> us.  In spite of our attempts with our legal people to expedite the
> proceedings, and therefore the release of those yet to come, the
> delays were unbelievable.  One woman late in the afternoon (after 4)
> was asked why she was shaking.  The courtroom was cold, and she had
> not been fed since 4:20 that morning.  Everyone else in the courtroom
> was wearing either heavy long-sleeved turtleneck shirts or suit and
> tie.  A good number of the spectators were wearing their jackets and
> sweaters.   Another woman who was diabetic had had not only no food,
> but no meds since arrest.  The judge evidently thought it somehow
> entertaining to throw in adolescent humor.
> The proceedings lasted until just short of the 48 hour deadline.
> Finally came the last surprise.  $5000 each for bail.  High school
> students, college students, unemployed, poor, rich, first timer or
> repeater; whatever.   Unprecedented!  In the history of the SOAW, NO
> ONE has ever not shown up for trial!  The judge mentioned, "These are
> different times"!  I know that I broke the law.  I am ready and
> willing to take the consequences.  I will probably receive 6 months
> in federal prison.  I do not agree with it, but I knew the risks.
> But evidently the word has come down from above. Possibly from John
> Ashcroft himself. We have committed the most grievous of crimes.  We
> are attempting to bring attention to and to criticize our
> government's foreign policy, and we must be dealt with.  In a nation
> founded on Dissent, Dissent will not be tolerated.  Make life for
> those protestors as miserable as you can.
> Of course there's also the chance that once in jail, regardless of
> whether convicted, and regardless of for what, all persons not only
> can, but should, be treated as animals. What would you think if you
> were mistakenly arrested, held for 48 hours and were treated like
> this?  Is this sort of treatment OK?
> Well, one of our number will be found innocent.  He was dragged onto
> the base by a soldier.  He has many witnesses.  Yet he received the
> same treatment.
> Michael Parenti has warned that wars are between the rich and the
> poor.   Poor countries  don't need government.  Government is all
> about money, and its purpose is to move it from the population to the
> rich.  Laws are written to protect the rich from the poor.  THINK
> ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT!  After our foreign policy has made use of
> the backs and lives of the poor around the world, the system will
> begin to attack and subjugate its own people.  They need only fear as
> a tool.  I think it's starting.
> We are at a crucial point in the history of this country.  We must
> decide whether it should be an ally in a world of nations, or an
> empire.  Before you answer, find out what an empires, and who runs
> it.
> George and his regime want to rule the world.  Do you want that?  I
> didn't say he wants the United States to rule the world.  He is not
> in this for us.  There is always the possibility that he might
> actually think he is.  But if so, he is governing from a position of
> ignorance  "….as would most given that experience."
> Sometimes you have to question what you have always believed.  It's
> hard.  It's uncomfortable.  It's unnerving.  And it can be painful.
> Believe me, I know.
> Jack Neis  POC
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible
> government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to
> the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the
> unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the
> first task of the statesmanship of the day."--Theodore Roosevelt,
> April 19, 1906
> "And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within
> the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people
> love their servitude, and producing … a kind of painless
> concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact
> have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it,
> because they wi! ll be distracted from any desire to rebel by
> propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological
> methods."--Aldous Huxley, 1959
> "There is an evil which ought to be guaarded against in the
> indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it
> in perpetuity by corporations. The power of all corporations ought to
> be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never
> fails to be a source of abuses." James Madison