WMU News

Ethics speaker fights to close Army training facility

Sept. 18, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The man who has spent decades fighting to close the U.S. Army's School of Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., claiming it is a "school of assassins," will speak about his struggle at Western Michigan University Tuesday, Sept. 25.

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, founder and co-director of the School of Americas Watch, will give a presentation titled "Crossing the Line: Moral Witness and the Struggle to Close the U.S. School of Americas" at 7:30 p.m. in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center.

Bourgeois' address is the 2001 Winnie Veenstra Peace Lecture sponsored by the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society. It is free and open to the public.

The School of the Americas, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is the U.S. Army's Spanish-language training facility for Latin American military personnel. The school has been at the storm of controversy for nearly two decades as its graduates have been linked to many major human rights abuses in Latin America. Because of the link between SOA graduates and human rights atrocities, a grass root movement to close the school developed and continues today.

Bourgeois, a former naval officer who became an ordained Catholic priest in 1972, has spent more than four years in U.S. federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the SOA. In 1990 he founded the School of Americas Watch in an office located just outside the main entrance of Fort Benning to research the SOA and inform the public, media and Congress of the implications of the school on Latin America's poor. In 1995, he worked on a documentary film about SOA called "School of Assassins," which received an Academy Award nomination. Bourgeois also received the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award in 1997.

For more information, contact the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at (616) 387-4397.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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