Learning From Each Other

Carol Richardson and Heather Dean work with School of Americas Watch, an organization that through research, public actions, and legislative advocacy has led the movement attempting to close a U.S. military facility that has trained foreign military personnel implicated in a wide range of human rights abuses. "Carol is the best organizer I have ever worked with," says Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who founded SOA Watch. "Heather is our scholar. She keeps us on course with all of our documentation that continues to come out about the School. Every day I thank God for them. This is very hard and heavy work but they help me hold on to my joy and my sense of humor, and to hope."

Richardson and Dean were interviewed by Sojourners assistant editor Rose Marie Berger in October 1998 at the SOA Watch office in Washington D.C.

ROSE MARIE BERGER: How did School of the Americas Watch begin?

CAROL RICHARDSON: Roy Bourgeois went down to Fort Benning, essentially to see what the deal was. In November 1989, he opened up the SOA Watch office literally just a stone's throw from the main gate of the School, and began to watch, began the investigative work, began drawing other people little by little into the movement.

HEATHER DEAN: In 1990, on the first anniversary of the massacre of the Jesuits in El Salvador, I went down from Emory University where I was studying to the first vigil at Fort Benning. I decided to cross the line [onto Fort Benning property] with the first group. Father Roy Bourgeois had done a civil disobedience action the previous day; there were just seven of us that crossed the line the second day.

BERGER: How has SOA Watch grown from a fairly marginalized campaign to a major grassroots movement?

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1999
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