Departing from Atlanta at around 5pm, the Grizzly, the Stork and I boarded the car and headed south to Fort Benning, Georgia. Along the way we were all hit by road trip fatigue but managed to pull it together and make it to our destination. The Grizzly ran off to teach his lecture while Stork and I browsed around the convention center, eventually separating. I quickly befriended an older man named Rick who was a SOA Watch vet. He educated me on some of the back story with SOA Watch and his opinion as to why the numbers of protesters had dwindled due to certain disagreements. Afterwards at the conclusion of the convention, Grizzly, Stork and I were joined by Doe and we retired to the hotel for the night.
After a marathon of uncomfortable sleep, due to a suspect can of cream soda, I anxiously hopped out of bed and to the dinning area for breakfast. I met many interesting people there who all had varying degrees of history with the SOA Watch. We held interesting conversations but most notable was that with Hannah and her Grandmother Moreen. The three of us discussed the different outlook that the present generation has towards college in that we see it as no longer a choice but an unpleasant requirement to succeeded in life while Moreen’s generation looked at college not as a requirement but a privilege. With breakfast scrambled in the pit of my stomach, the gang and I regrouped and went to the site of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) formally known as the School of Americas.
After listening to many speakers and those directly affected by WHINSEC’s terrorism, I helped the puppitistas carry the giant conquistador boat in the annual parade. While hoisting this behemoth down the street, I befriended three cool dudes in the hull with me named Sam, Gus and Tray, you know, doin what we do, keepin the water tight <_<.
Anyway, hours later we headed to the convention center and I along with many others witnessed as Rebel Diaz sniffed out a group of undercover cops. Once exposed the group was pubically shamed via the power of the continuous protest song until they drifted away. The concert started shortly after and every performance was awe inspiring, energetic, and spiritual uplifting. As I went to bed that night, the revolutionary spirit was my blanket.
I woke up energized and revolutionized by the energy given to me at the concert last night. After breakfast, attended the funeral procession for all those murdered by the students of WHINSEC. After the march of the crosses, we went to the gates of Fort Benning to decorate them with the names of all those no longer with us. Then, a man dressed in mourning clown garb whose name I was told is Robert Norman Chantal, climbed the fence and reflected for a while before eventually crossing over. I had mixed feelings about his sacrifice. On one hand I’m always happy to support a comrade initiating a revolutionary action but when there are thousands of people behind that person then it shouldn’t be left up to a single individual committing the action but the majority.
This was my dilemma with the SOA Watch as a whole. From the veterans that I talked to who had participated for years, I learned of SOA Watch in it’s prime when it’s fangs were still sharp but now it is my opinion that those fangs have become dull with age and petty disagreement. I say this not out of negativity but out of deep compassion for what the SOA Watch stands for. I met many amazing people and had so many positive experiences but this is not a situation where I want to say “see ya again next year!” I don’t want there to be a next year. I want WHINSEC to be closed immediately and indefinitely. And I hate to be a person that gives critique without offering a substantial alternative to the problem but at this moment I have but only one solution, ESCALATION.
I also want to challenge the youth and my peers that may be reading this. I was displeased to see us so greatly misrepresented. If we want to see real change in America and the world we have to step up. Our elders who are in the struggle have done their part now it’s time for us to do ours. Escalation isn’t just about dramatic feats of heroism. Let’s escalate to the point where we are telling all our peers about the injustices happening not only around the world but in our own backyards. Let’s organize and form our own communities of dope ass individuals down for the struggle. And most importantly, let’s stop talking/complaining about the shit we wanna see changed and simply rise up and change them.