FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hotied and Abused at Fort Benning

On Sunday, November 23, I took part in a nonviolent civil disobedience action at Fort Benning, GA, to protest the U.S. Army´s School of the Americas (SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation — WHISC)

Shortly after more than two dozen of us entered Fort Benning and were arrested, US Military Police took us to a warehouse on the base for “processing.” I was directed to a station for an initial search, where a woman soldier began shouting at me to look straight ahead and spread my legs. I turned to ask her why she was shouting at me and was ordered to keep my mouth shut, look straight ahead, and spread my legs wider. She then began an aggressive body search. When ordered to raise one leg a second time, I temporarily lost my balance while still being roughly searched and, in my view, ‘womanhandled.’ I decided that I shouldn’t go along with this dehumanizing action any longer. When I lowered my arms and said, quietly, “I’m sorry, but I can’t any longer cooperate with this,” I was instantly pushed to the floor. Five soldiers squatted around me, one of them referring to me with an expletive (this f_ _ _ er) and began to cuff my wrists and ankles and then bind my wrists and ankles together. Then one soldier leaned on me, with his or her knee in my back. Unable to get a full breath, I gasped and moaned, “I can’t breathe.” I repeated this many times and then began begging for help. When I said, “Please, I’ve had four lung collapses before,” the pressure on my back eased. Four soldiers then carried me, hogtied, to the next processing station for interrogation and propped me in a kneeling position. The soldier standing to my left, who had been assigned to “escort” me, gently told me that soon the ankle and wrist cuffs, which were very tight, would be cut off. He politely let me know that he would have to move my hair, which was hanging in front of my face, so that my picture could be taken. I told him I’d appreciate that.

I was then carried to the next station. There, one of the soldiers who’d been part of pushing me to the floor knelt in front of me, and, with his nose about two inches from mine, told me that because I was combative I should know that if I didn’t do exactly as instructed when they uncuffed one hand, he would pepper spray me. I asked him to describe how I’d been combative, but he didn’t answer.

After the processing, I was unbound, shackled with wrist and ankle chains, and led to the section where other peaceful activists, also shackled, awaited transport to the Muskogee County jail.

At our bond hearing on Monday, Nov. 24, a military prosecutor told the federal judge that the military was considering an additional charge against me for resisting arrest. I explained my side of the story to the judge, grateful that there are at least sevreal witnesses upon whom I could call.

The federal judge determined that most of us were “flight risks” and increased by 100% the cash bond required before we could be released, from last year´s $500. to $1000.

Today I have a black eye and the soreness that comes with severe muscle strain. Mostly, I’m burdened with a serious question, “What are these soldiers training for?” The soldiers conducting that search must have been ordered not to tolerate the slightest dissent. They were practicing intimidation tactics far beyond what would be needed to control an avowedly nonviolent group of protesters who had never, in thirteen years of previous actions, caused any disruption during the process of arrest. Bewildered, most of us in the “tank” inside the Muskogee County jail acknowledged that during the rough processing we wondered, “What country do we live in?” We now live in a country where Homeland Security funds pay for exercises which train military and police units to control and intimidate crowds, detainees, and arrestees using threat and force.

This morning’s aches and pains, along with the memory of being hogtied, give me a glimpse into the abuses we protest by coming to Fort Benning, GA. As we explore the further invention of nonviolence in our increasingly volatile time, it’s important that we jointly overcome efforts to deter our determination to stand together against what Martin Luther King once called, “the violence of desperate men,” — and women.

KATHY KELLY is director of Voices in the Wilderness. She can be reached at: kathy@vitw.org

 

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail